Using post-discharge follow up for surgical patients

While no regulatory body specifically requires that hospitals follow up with same-day-surgery patients, the Joint Commission does require that a postoperative reassessment be performed at a predetermined interval. Essentially, the primary function is to identify any potentially adverse event related to the surgery before it manifests itself into an admission to the hospital. As a secondary function, the reassessment, if performed effectively, can also provide the patient with much needed help in managing his/her care after returning home.

There are a variety of ways in which hospitals can perform this reassessment. Some organizations choose to mail surveys to patients in order to disseminate additional instructions as well as to gather information from their patients. However, the delay in delivery of this survey limits its efficacy. More often than not, the survey is received far too long after the surgery and thus does not have any meaningful impact on the patient’s health and well being.

Another strategy is to have RN’s perform follow-up calls manually, but with an already overburdened staff, the likelihood that all of the calls are executed successfully in a timely manner is fairly low. In addition, tracking outcomes and identifying key trends are cumbersome with a purely manual follow-up approach. The solution to these challenges is to deploy a meaningful automated program. The follow-up solution we developed, CipherOutreach, is fully customizable while providing the most value for the organization.

Our strategy has proven to be effective and scalable due to the specific nature of our calls. For example our post-op program asks patients questions such as:

  •      Have you noticed any redness or swelling at the incision point?
  •      Have you experienced any nausea or vomiting since leaving the hospital?
  •      Do you have any questions about how to take care of yourself now that you are home?

These questions are more effective in identifying patients at risk for an adverse event because they are specific to the needs of a patient who has just been through a surgical procedure. They capture insightful data that can be used to drive future improvements. And the CipherOutreach program provides a platform to disseminate information critical to the patients’ ability to care for themselves once they are home. In addition, by engaging with patients within 24 hours after their procedure, the system is able to quickly identify patients who are experiencing critical issues and connect them with the appropriate resource.

There is no silver bullet for engaging with postoperative patients but reach out to us to see why so many hospitals have chosen CipherOutreach to help with postoperative outreach.


Ranked as the “Best Overall Patient Engagement Company” in MedTech's Breakthrough Awards for 2020, and the top-performing vendor for patient outreach and digital rounding by KLAS in 2019, CipherHealth is a proven technology partner committed to enhancing communication and coordination throughout the patient journey. CipherHealth’s suite of patient engagement software empowers healthcare organizations to foster meaningful connections to ensure the best possible outcomes for staff members, patients, and their loved ones.