Many patients breathe a sigh of relief when their doctor recommends a hip or knee replacement surgery. Patients look forward to receiving a new, functioning joint after years of suffering in pain. However, some patients are fearful of managing on their own at home or the journey through the rehabilitation process. With the newest advances in surgical procedures, many patients can opt for outpatient surgery and return home the very same day. According to scientific studies, patients have better outcomes when they can recover in their own homes. This makes outpatient surgery an appealing option for both physicians and patients.
But how do you prepare for the recovery process at home? What do you need to do in advance to get ready?
These questions and more are addressed prior to surgery for patients of Olympia Orthopaedic Associates (OOA). All patients’ concerns are addressed prior to surgery by a Nurse Navigator. Patients and their caregivers will continue to have this welcomed support after they have returned home and throughout the recovery period.
The Surgical Services Program Manager running the Nurse Navigator program at Olympia Orthopaedic Associates is Becki Taylor. Becki is one of three nurses assigned to patients undergoing spine, total knee, partial knee or total hip surgeries. Becki worked in the orthopaedics unit at Providence St. Peter Hospital for four years and then the operating room for an additional four years before coming to Olympia Orthopaedics Associates. She brought her years of surgical experience to OOA in 2015, which she is delighted to share with her patients.
“The Nurse Navigator program is so important because we guide the patients through the entire surgical process from making the decision to have surgery through their rehabilitation,” Becki shares. “It is comforting to patients to know that there is a support system in place for them even after they leave the surgery center.”
Becki teaches an Outpatient Total Joint Education class at OOA’s outpatient surgery center. The class is free and open to the community. Patients who have scheduled surgery or those interested in joint or spine surgery can take this class in advance of their surgery or their decision so that they fully understand the surgical procedure and how they will function after surgery. The Nurse Navigator will then contact the patient and review the appointment schedule to discuss any required equipment needed upon returning home. During this call patients ask individualized questions and the nurse provides answers and resources.
A simple phone call can decrease anxiety and improve outcomes for the patient. The Nurse Navigator program’s support doesn’t end there. Each patient is greeted by their Nurse Navigator on surgery day at Olympia Surgery Center and given an opportunity to ask any final questions. Seeing a familiar face is comforting and welcoming to patients about to undergo a total or partial joint surgery.
The day after the surgery, patients receive a follow-up phone call from their Nurse Navigator to make sure they arrived home safely and discuss any issues that have cropped up. If the caregiver has forgotten a shower bar or some other essential item, the nurse can provide a phone number to call for help or arrange to have items sent directly to the patient’s home.
The Nurse Navigator and patient are in contact following surgery for any questions or concerns that may come up. Questions can be as simple as dosing of medications to strategies on how to help patients get moving again. This personal care not only provides reassurance to patients and their families, but it drives down health care costs for the entire community by eliminating unnecessary trips to urgent care or the emergency room. Medicare patients are followed even more closely for the first 90 days and this can continue for up to a full year after the surgery.
Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) are collected from patients in the weeks, months and years after a surgical procedure. PROs are reports of health status directly from the patient, not a clinician’s report. This feedback includes how they feel and how their recovery is progressing in their own words.
PROs help ensure that patients are both understanding their care and feeling improvement once home. PROs are critical to providing quality care at OOA. The data is collected through a variety of surveys administered by OOA. Patients are enrolled in the PRO follow-up system with surveys sent immediately following surgery, at six months, one year and two years. These reports help direct the work of Nurse Navigators who can use the data collected through surveys, along with their personal connection to patients, to ensure quality care is delivered long after the patient has headed home.
Over 400 total joint patients have come through the Olympia Surgery Center at OOA and the Nurse Navigators have followed each one. Currently, there are three nurses working with approximately 40 patients per month. OOA is working to expand the program to provide the service to all OOA patients who undergo any type of surgery in their outpatient center or in a local hospital.
With four world-class neurosurgeons and eight total joint surgeons, the Nurse Navigator program will keep Becki Taylor and her team busy and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Patients are so appreciative of the services we provide and that is all included in their surgical experience.”
For more information on Olympia Orthopaedic Associates or the Nurse Navigator program visit www.olyortho.com.