Poorly managed appointment bookings and long wait times are too common in outpatient health, with implications that go beyond initial patient frustration. The solution? Implementing changes at an organizational level. We break down some of the ways in which healthcare organizations can begin seeing greater success when it comes to outpatient services.
What is outpatient behavioral health?
Outpatient health, in general, refers to treatment that occurs within a healthcare setting, such as offices, hospitals, and clinics, without the patient staying overnight. In the case of behavioral health, patients are able to connect with their care providers and engage with their treatment plan while being able to maintain close connections with their support network.
While outpatient treatment presents its own unique set of challenges, such as the fact that the patient may still be experiencing problems at home or work, it stands as a viable option for individuals that cannot take extended absences from other aspects of their life.
Types of outpatient behavioral health services may include:
- Individual or group therapy
- Support groups
- Partial hospitalization programs
- Intensive outpatient programs
No matter the outpatient setting, there are some fundamental strategies providers and healthcare organizations can implement for greater outpatient behavioral health success.
Improving Your Outpatient Behavioral Health Success
Start with Primary Care
Improving outpatient services begins before the patient even enlists those services. General practitioners need the tools and knowledge to effectively assess and prioritize concerns and provide appropriate referrals. By creating clear referral processes and protocols, such as the standardized use of informational portals and questionnaires, organizations can equip GPs with the power to give referrals to the right outpatient clinics or services at the right time.
Examine Your Work Culture
Engaging patients is only part of the battle of implementing outpatient improvement efforts. Physicians and staff members must be engaged in patient pathways too. One way organizations can help maintain an efficient and motivated workplace is by designating leaders whose responsibility it is to reach out to and connect with less-engaged employees, even offering incentives when necessary.
Leverage Information Technology
Implementing innovative technologies into your practice improves key components of outpatient care, and, as a result, patient outcomes.
Focus on patient engagement & compliance
While inpatient care may be the best option for some individuals, it is not always possible, so keeping them engaged with and involved in their care is both challenging and critical.
With innovative health technology, providers have a valuable engagement tool. The ease with which patients can access important health information or can connect with their provider gives the patient a greater sense of control over their health and encourages participation in outpatient programs. In addition to convenience, using exciting new telehealth tools can help foster better connections between a patient and their healthcare.
Improve care coordination
Patients undergoing outpatient behavioral health treatment may often need to see multiple healthcare professionals over extended amounts of time, meaning care coordination is especially critical to successful outcomes. Utilizing integrated communication platforms, such as iTether, promotes more collaborative decision-making while giving providers the ability to remotely monitor patient progress and easily share health data with the patient and other professionals.
Track & measure
Tracking results is necessary to take the guesswork out of improving outcomes, and digital health solutions give organizations invaluable resources for doing so. In addition to databases in which organizations can store and review health data, telehealth and remote patient monitoring tools give providers a more personalized way of tracking outcomes and help them intervene early in any issues, further improving those outcomes.
Ready to Start Improving Your Outpatient Outcomes?
As a fully integrated telehealth platform, iTether provides easy access to critical health information while creating better communication pathways, all of which boosts engagement, compliance, coordination, and decision-making by everyone involved in an outpatient health plan.
Connect with us today to discover how we can harness the power of human connection to help you improve your outpatient care.