We all know that education is a life-long experience – we can all learn something new every day.
In this spirit, the Spine Center at Carondelet Neurological Institute (CNI) developed a unique and valuable program for patients called Spine Camp. The program’s goal is to educate patients who are scheduled for spine surgery about their upcoming procedure in an engaging and informative way that is designed to maximize their recovery and minimize their hospital stay.
And it’s working. Since its inception nearly four years ago, more than 500 patients have attended Spine Camp. These patients experience a shorter hospital stay; reduced, on average, by about 20 percent. At the same time, outcomes have improved significantly and patient satisfaction with their surgical experience has increased.
The CNI Spine Center equips surgery patients with information that enables them to return home more quickly and to get on with their normal routine, whether going back to work or play.
It’s all done in six simple steps:
1. Patients are connected to the patient navigator. Not unlike a concierge, the patient navigator guides the surgery patient through the process, providing personalized information on what to expect before, during and after surgery.
2. Patients are informed about what they should bring with them to the hospital to make their stay more comfortable and productive.
3. Patients receive information to help them appropriately prepare their homes once they return from surgery. This ensures ample time to make necessary adjustments or modifications to their homes that will assist them in recovering more rapidly.
4. The Spine Center staff helps patients coordinate brace fittings and other necessary equipment before they go into surgery; versus the conventional, and often disruptive, model of waiting until after the procedure.
5. Patients are given information and precautions on what they can – and cannot – do after surgery, helping them better understand the physical limitations they will encounter.
6. Schedules for subsequent outpatient visits are actually made before the patient goes into surgery, removing one more potential worry for the recovering patient.
Spine Camp consists of a 90-minute class, facilitated by the patient navigator whose aim is to raise the comfort level of patients awaiting surgery. The program includes an interdisciplinary team of professionals directly involved in every aspect of the patient’s needs – surgeons, nurses, physical and occupational therapists and others.
In this scenario, every possible need of the patient is not only anticipated but formally addressed, long before he or she ever arrives in the operating room.
In medicine, there is an important need to provide not just the highest quality care but the highest level of compassionate care as well.
(Editor’s Note: Dr. Sipos is medical director at the Carondelet Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tucson.)