By Mercy's Sonya Kullmann
Whether you’ve just been diagnosed with a new health condition or learned you need surgery, your biggest questions likely pop to mind after you’ve left the doctor’s office.
That’s why Mercy care teams are now sending patients online education from Emmi®. With the click of a button, patients can watch short interactive programs with tips for managing a chronic condition or preparing for an upcoming procedure. A heart patient in St. Louis, Missouri, gave this review: “It covered every subject on this particular procedure and also the benefits, risks involved and alternatives. I think that if I had any questions, most of those are answered now.”
Mercy began using Emmi in 2007 in Northwest Arkansas, after Mercy patient Don Soderquist was hospitalized in another city and got his patient education through Emmi. He appreciated the information so much, he made a donation to Mercy to bring the program to his hometown. It didn’t take long for other patients to recognize Emmi’s benefits, so Mercy expanded the program to see if it could get the same results in the Springfield, Missouri, area. Those came back equally positive, and Mercy finished implementing Emmi across its four states this spring.
In the first quarter of 2015, patient surveys show:
“Having information puts you in control,” said Pam Holt, director of patient education for Mercy Care Management. “These programs reinforce the conversations you have with your doctor and nurses. They can be viewed many times and can be shared with family and friends.”
A Springfield patient who’s managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease liked that feature the best, saying, “I will be having my family watch this video so they are as correctly informed as I am. They may see symptoms I overlook or don’t feel are relevant.”
The interactive videos do not require patients to read pages and pages of text; they stop occasionally to allow time to repeat information or make notes. A patient in St. Louis noted, “Having the visuals as well as the voiceover made it very easy to follow and comprehend. Having my notes and summary all together will be invaluable!”
The Emmi program is integrated with Mercy patients’ electronic health record, which lets doctors know whether patients are viewing the education they’ve been sent. “We’ve seen less concern over colonoscopies and better compliance with sleep studies,” said Dr. James T. Rogers, vice president of Mercy Adult Primary Care. “One of our doctors commented that since we’ve been using this routinely for patients with diabetes, the trends are toward better laboratory test results.”
For those managing chronic conditions, reminders about taking care of themselves can be life-saving. After completing their online education, an asthma patient in Bella Vista, Arkansas, wrote, “I will probably use my inhaler sooner in an asthma episode after being reminded with this instruction that controlling it is important.”
The education was inspiring for a patient with high blood pressure in Edmond, Oklahoma, who promised to make a plan and follow through with it. “I set a goal to lose 10 to 15 pounds. I’ll watch my diet by excluding sodium and processed foods, cut out carbonated soft drinks and eat more fruits and vegetables.”
Dr. Rogers says it’s a great way for doctors to reach out to their patients in addition to their appointments and remind them to take good care of themselves. “Now, more than ever, our care teams feel more empowered to better serve and improve health with our patients.”
Mercy is the seventh largest Catholic health care system in the U.S., which serves millions annually. Mercy includes 46 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.