Improving Heart Failure Patients' Ability to Self-Manage

Intervention Title:
Improving Heart Failure Patients’ Ability to Self-Manage

Washington Hospital Center; Washington, D.C.

Educate heart failure patients on their condition and provide them with information on how to manage their condition in their day-to-day lives.

Staff developed a series of videos on heart failure called “Finding Balance.”

Patients are better informed and feel part of the team to better manage their health.

Washington Hospital Center
110 Irving St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20010
P: (202) 877-7000

From the C-Suite:
“We believe patients represent one-half of the health care team, and for that reason it is important that they have all the essential information to help manage their condition. By encouraging patients to become partners in their health with their physicians, we are helping set the stage for a better physician-patient relationship. This video helps lay the groundwork for that relationship.”

Elizabeth Wykpisz
Chief Nursing Officer

Washington Hospital Center is the largest private hospital in the nation's capital with 926 licensed beds offering primary, secondary and tertiary health care services to adult and neonatal patients.

Clinical Areas Affected:

  • Heart and Vascular Institute

Staff involved:

  • Advanced Practice Nurses in Heart Failure Unit
  • Web Department

Less than four months to brainstorm, develop secure funding, shoot and distribute the video.

Elizabeth Wykpisz
Chief Nursing Officer
P: (202) 877-7000

Innovation Implementation:
Washington Hospital Center’s Heart and Vascular Institute performs more than 19,000 procedures annually, and leads the region in the number of open heart surgeries performed per year. The Institute is continuously ranked as one of the top facilities that treats patients suffering from a myriad of heart conditions, including heart failure.

In 2007, Washington Hospital Center (WHC) underwent a major effort to improve quality and patient care, particularly for patients being treated for heart conditions. Advanced Practice nurses working in the WHC Heart Failure Unit were tasked with developing innovations to help patients understand the care they receive as well tools to help them self-manage their conditions. Nurses met and decided the best strategy to reach patients was through a straight-forward, comprehensible and visually appealing format–video, as opposed to dense and unexciting toolkits or documents.

Nurses approached the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) about the idea and sought approval for funding. The CNO worked with the hospital’s Development and Finance department to reallocate funds in the operating budget and secure funds through a private donation to cover the costs of the video. After securing funding, the nurses solicited a request-for-proposals from video production vendors in the area. Once a vendor was secured, nurses spent several weeks working with cardiologists on potentials topics for the video and writing a script, mindful of the low-literacy population of the video viewers. Nurses also sought commitment of patients to appear in the video. The video took five days to shoot and three weeks of editing.

Once the video was finished, nurses in the Heart Failure Unit worked with the hospital’s Web Department to post the video on the hospital’s Web site. Additionally, all new patients see the video on the hospital’s TV network and receive a copy upon discharge.

Advice and lessons learned:

  1. Involve patients. By involving patients being treated at the hospital in the video, it keeps the essence of the video homegrown and patient-centered. Additionally, using patients eliminates the cost of having to use paid actors.
  2. Keep it short and simple. People are more likely to listen and watch information if it is presented in a clear and concise manner.
  3. Exhaust all efforts to cover cost. Look at existing budgets and review potential donors to cover costs. Also, ask the production company to provide some services “at cost.”

The video cost about $30,000 to produce. The anticipated future benefit is that the video will reduce ER admissions and hospital stays because patients are better informed about their conditions.