The continuum of care can be seen as a series of events that build upon each other. Issues early in the process will, ultimately, affect the final outcome. The patient must be managed throughout the process for the best possible outcomes.
Patient education should begin the day the surgical decision is made. Patients need to understand the process and become both mentally and physically prepared for the impending procedure. Knowing what to expect helps to alleviate patient concerns and ensure they are part of the process. Co-morbidities and pain management protocols must be identified and planned for in advance to ensure timely rehabilitation and discharge.
With established processes and improved pain management, hospitals can begin rehabilitation and ambulation on the day of surgery, enabling patients to begin the recovery and discharge process sooner. This entails creating and using:
- Evidence-based order sets and care plans for consistent care
- Multi-modal pain management to effectively minimize pain with fewer narcotics
- A dedicated unit specializing in orthopedic care to provide better care, reduce the risk of HAIs, and improve patient satisfaction
- Education and frequent communication to manage length of stay
According to the Accelero Health Partners database, top performers discharge 85% of their total joint patients to home or home healthcare. To do so requires the coordination of post-discharge care within 24 hours to ensure a smooth transition home and timely recovery. Using a family member or friend to act as a coach and participate in all education and therapy helps to increase comfort and reduce patient uncertainty around being discharged to home.