New NY Law: Recorded Discharge Instructions for the Visually Impaired

On July 22, 2014, Governor Cuomo signed a law for the benefit of blind and visually impaired hospital patients. This law, which was passed as an amendment stating that as of October 20, 2014 hospitals must provide blind and visually impaired patients with a large print version or, upon request of the patient, with an audio recording of the discharge plan and preadmission information.

This new law demonstrates an acknowledgement by New York State that discharge instructions are critical for patients’ recoveries but can be a challenge to understand and retain, especially for visually impaired patients. Failure to understand discharge instructions can leave a patient feeling uncertain and confused about how to get better, which can lead to a costly hospital readmission. According to New York State records, the justification of this law is that “it is often difficult for patients to remember the extensive instructions given to them by their doctors upon discharge from a hospital. Blind or visually impaired patients might also have trouble writing down instructions, which would compound the difficulty of remembering them… This bill is necessary to ensure that such patients are able to access and follow the instructions given by their doctors.”

According to Elizabeth Grossman of Disability Rights New York, the Protection & Advocacy System for persons with disabilities in New York, one of the ways hospitals can comply with the new state law is by “investing in software that can be used to create digital recordings of pre-admission information and discharge plans” and by “creating a mechanism to provide patients with those digital recordings upon request.”

After more than five years of collecting information from patients across the care continuum, we saw time and time again that patients were not fully understanding discharge instructions and this posed a significant challenge to patients. The lack of understanding in discharge instructions leads to both hospital readmissions and lower HCAHPS scores. We and our clients realized that by providing an alternative way for patients to access the most important messages from doctors and nurses, patients were more likely to understand and follow the key steps in their care plans, leading to better outcomes.

This realization led to the creation of Echo, which CipherHealth developed to help not only visually impaired but all patients better understand and follow their discharge instructions. Echo allows clinicians to securely record the discharge conversation, which patients and caregivers can listen to from home at their own convenience. Echo is a personalized way for patients to replay important information that is paramount in their path to wellness. With Echo, patients can go home knowing they have an easy way to replay very important information when they are most engaged.

To learn more about the new law, join our webinar on October 21 at 10am EDT. To RSVP, email webinar@cipherhealth.com with your name and organization.

For more information about Disability Rights New York, please visit its website at www.disabilityrightsny.org. For more information about how Echo can help your hospital comply with the new New York State Public Health Law, please email us at info@cipherhealth.com.

CipherHealth empowers providers across the care continuum to deliver enhanced patient experiences and communications through a modular, comprehensive patient engagement technology platform.