Case Study: In the Midst of Crisis, Knowledge and Connectivity Make the Difference Between Life and Death
Medical City Arlington & VOX Telehealth Partner to Improve Orthopedic Care
When facing a medical emergency, patients need two things the most: direction and a clear mind.
For Susan*, that moment came while at home recuperating from knee-placement surgery at Medical City Arlington. Her surgery had gone well, and she was successfully discharged home after spending two uneventful nights in the hospital. But upon arriving home, Susan began to realize something was wrong and within a few hours, she was struggling.
“Everything started going wrong with my breathing,” Susan recalled from her home in central Texas. “Because I’m asthmatic, I immediately thought I was having an attack. But, I could tell my normal breathing treatment techniques weren’t doing anything.”
Thankfully for Susan, a 76-year-old retired teacher and administrator, she did not switch into panic mode.
To prepare for the surgery, Susan’s surgeon, Dr. Shane Seroyer, had her enrolled in a program called VOX OrthoCare. Starting 30 days prior to the surgery, VOX’s web-based, patient education and management platform helped Susan to physically and mentally prepare for her surgery and know what to expect throughout her stay in the hospital and recovery at home. Laying out her entire care plan along with pre and post-op exercises, Susan not only felt well prepared going into her surgery, but also rested in the fact that she had access to needed support at any point in her episode of care.
The provided education, coordination and symptomatic observations proved to be critically important for Susan as her condition rapidly worsened.
“I can’t tell you how awful it felt; I was just gasping for air. But my mind kept circling back to what I’d been reading before the surgery about blood clots and the small percentage of people that it happens to,” Susan said. “I kind of gasped to my family that I think that’s going on with me. That it wasn’t the asthma.”
With her son and daughter-in-law by her side, Susan quickly reviewed the symptomatic observations within the recovery phase of her VOX OrthoCare Program. Realizing that the symptoms did in fact point to a potential blood clot, her son immediately followed the protocols given and an ambulance was on its way.
Though less than two percent of joint replacement patients will develop blood clots in their lungs during their post-operative recovery, Susan was correct in her diagnosis of her life-threatening situation.
“It would never have crossed my mind that my inability to breath would have anything to do with blood clots if I had not been prompted to learn about and be aware of the symptoms,” Susan said. “At the time, I thought to myself, ‘What if I hadn’t tried to educate myself?’ My doctors said I was very fortunate to have made it.”
Susan was provided emergency treatment to address the blood clots in both of her lungs, and after a stay in the Intensive Care Unit and rehabilitation unit was discharged to home, where she is now recovering comfortably.
“I really believe that knowing what can happen saved my life,” Susan added. “I praise the doctor and the hospital for giving me access to the information, and encouraging me to use the program.”
Proactive Patient, Proactive Results
For years, Susan had suffered from a deteriorating right knee, which she first injured while caring for her now 103-year-old mother.
“In hindsight, it was probably more physical work than I should have been doing,” Susan said. After the initial injury, she had arthroscopic surgery and cortisone shots that helped for a while. Eventually the stress on the compromised knee became too much, and as a result her mobility was greatly reduced and she was losing sleep to the pain. “It got to the point where walking a block was about more than I could do.”
When Susan opted for joint replacement surgery, her care team at the Medical City Arlington enrolled her in the VOX OrthoCare Program.
“My orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Seroyer, along with the hospital, Medical City Arlington, were very encouraging in linking me up to the VOX OrthoCare website and program,” Susan said. “And I very dutifully started reading and following along as directed.”
With a process-oriented mind by nature, Susan took to the step-by-step program, bookmarking it on her home computer and engaging with the guided education and coordination.
“I read it every day and used it as a model for what to do. I really used it just like I was in school,” Susan said. “It was very informative as to what to expect and what could go on.”
Life coming back together
Susan is back home now and is well on the road to a full recovery. She’s completed four months of physical therapy and she’s returning to all the things she loved doing before the surgery. She’s cooking for her extended family, playing bridge and helping out at local community organizations.
“I’m feeling pretty good. No more episodes and it’s all coming back together,” Susan said.
Her advice to patients in similar shoes is clear.
“People really ought to do the VOX OrthoCare Program because you go into surgery blind if you don’t have some information,” Susan said. “VOX tells you what to expect before the surgery and what to expect after the surgery. It guided me through the whole thing. Even down to the blood clots, which I hope other people don’t have.”
“Under normal circumstances using the program would be extremely helpful,” Susan said. “In my circumstance, it was beyond helpful. It saved my life.”
* Name changed by request of story’s subject.
“While we never want to see a patient have an event like Susan’s, we were thankful to have a program like VOX in place to help her identify the signs of trouble and instruct her of what to do in this situation.”
“Though the VOX OrthoCare Program most commonly facilitates a seamless episode of care and at-home recovery, Susan’s critical situation put the management capabilities of the program to the test. The whole VOX team is so happy that the program was able to help her in her time of need and that is she is fully recovering. It was a great reminder of our patient-centered mission.”
About VOX Telehealth
VOX Telehealth was founded to improve patient outcomes by redefining the patient experience and recovery model. Through a state-of-the art platform, VOX delivers procedure-specific, full episode-of-care engagement solutions that provide education, coordination, and monitoring through industry leading content, proprietary SmartTasks™ and a customizable alert escalation and notification system. Engaging the patient throughout their pre-op phase, as well as through transition of care and recovery, patients are connected and accountable, leading to greater satisfaction, improved outcomes, and reduced cost of care. For more information about VOX Telehealth and its orthopedic platform, the OrthoCare Program, please contact [email protected].