Digital Disruption| April 25, 2018
Technology and Patient Care: 3 Ways Technology Can Increase Patient Satisfaction
For many hospitals and medical centers, increasing patient satisfaction is a never-ending process. Balancing the demands of patient care, effective administration, expenses and more is complex, to say the least.
Recent advances in technology, however, have made it easier than ever to increase patient satisfaction without resorting to expensive and time-consuming initiatives.
By returning power to your patients, these technologies give you the ability to help patients proactively care for themselves far more efficiently, and effectively, than was previously possible — without draining valuable hospital resources.
Here are 3 simple ways to combine technology and patient care to enhance the patient experience and increase patient satisfaction.
1. Give patients access to doctors’ notes
Health systems are already beginning to employ technology that allows patients easy access to their doctors’ medical notes, creating a more efficient system of information sharing between patients and the doctors they visit.
It’s not uncommon for a patient to walk out of a medical facility only to realize he or she has forgotten most of what the medical practitioner just told them. Or, perhaps they are a first-time patient and need to provide their new doctor with information that they either don’t remember or don’t have on hand.
For a patient, this reduces both the quality and effectiveness of the care they just received.
For a practitioner, this means that their efforts are not fully realized, diminishing the quality of care provided.
And for a healthcare CEO, the lack of access to medical information not only reduces customer satisfaction, it reduces the effectiveness of the entire healthcare system.
So, what can be done?
Some hospitals, like Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, are using technology to improve patient care by sharing patient notes through online portals.
Using an online portal, a patient can log in, read their medical notes, and gain transparent insight into their health.
This also allows patients to share their doctor’s detailed medical notes with other medical specialists, making the sharing of critical patient information faster and easier than ever. Now, medical professionals can get the details of important diagnoses straight from other doctors at the point of care, rather than relying on potentially altered patient memory.
As Beth Israel Deaconess shows, these platforms can also be used to make appointments, view test results, and communicate with a nurse or doctor.
As a result, both patient knowledge and patient satisfaction improve, thanks to the quick service these online platforms provide. And patients can access this information from anywhere, whether they’re at home, on the road, or elsewhere — perfect for those patients constantly on the go or with limited mobility.
Dr. Michael Conroy, Chief Medical Officer of Sutter Medical Foundation in Sacramento, says that utilizing online notes has seen “no negative outcomes.” Perhaps this is why the number of Sutter patients reading their doctor’s notes online is growing every month.
Bottom line: By giving patients access to their medical notes via a private online portal, you can improve the effectiveness of the care they receive, increase patient satisfaction, and enable easier information sharing between patients and medical professionals.
2. Use tech to enable better hospital food service
Tablets can be used to gather patients’ dietary and medical information from EHR systems before they make their meal selections, helping patients make better dietary decisions, increasing patient satisfaction, and reducing waste.
Hospitals are notorious for the rather low quality of their food service. Outdated processes mean that patients often have limited options from which to choose, or that they receive their meals at inconvenient times, often leading to the food being thrown out.
Combining technology and patient care can change the way you feed your patients and enhance their experience at your hospital, all while reducing the money lost on wasted food.
Shore Medical Center, near Philadelphia, has implemented a system in which tablets are connected to the information in its patients’ electronic health records (EHRs), enabling a better, more accurate meal delivery experience.
The tablets record dietary limitations and allow for better communication with the patient. They can be used to present food choices within a patient’s unique dietary restrictions, warn patients of how their diet may affect their health, and confirm a patient’s food choices – all within the time frame needed for the kitchen staff to prepare the meal and deliver it when expected.
As a result of these changes, Shore Medical Center patients felt more in control of what they ate in the hospital, and, as of October 2016, the new program had saved the hospital upwards of $25,000 in food costs. But perhaps most importantly, patient satisfaction rose by 10 percent.
Bottom line: By using technology to implement better food service, you can dramatically improve the efficiency of your current system. Multiple factors such as dietary limitations and patient choice can be better monitored, delivering exactly what your patient wants, when they want it, increasing patient satisfaction and reducing food waste.
3. Create more comfortable patient rooms and lower patient anxiety using the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) can be employed to give patients more control over their surroundings, make them feel more comfortable, and give them better access to treatment and hospital information.
Anyone who has been a patient at a hospital or other medical facility knows that the experience is not always pleasant. This is due, in part, to the feeling of having little control of one’s surroundings: too much noise, uncomfortable temperatures, and the fear of uncertainty all lead to a less than ideal experience.
IoT can change this.
And three facilities of Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals are using IoT to do just that.
This news release details the development of cognitive hospital rooms, in partnership with IBM.
The rooms will be fitted with speakers that patients can easily calibrate, allowing them better control over the noise in their rooms. They can also take advantage of voice-activated commands to ease simple tasks such as changing room temperature, which some patients struggle to do.
In short, rather than having to wait on a limited (and very busy) hospital staff to help, patients can keep themselves comfortable. This gives them the sense of control that is often lacking in health centers and helps reduce their stress and discomfort.
Bottom line: Using technology such as voice-activated controls will increase patient satisfaction by giving patients control over their surroundings. Not only will this give them a better hospital experience, it will free your staff to concentrate on patient care.
Technology and Patient Care
It’s clear that technology can be used in a number of innovative ways to enhance and improve the patient experience in healthcare facilities around the world.
To combat the problem of limited access to patient medical information, online portals can be used to make medical notes easily accessible to doctors and patients when and where they need them.
To improve healthcare food delivery, we can combine easy-to-use tablets with EHR. Dietary and medical information can be used to instantly filter out food choices and ensure the patient makes an informed decision about what to eat, reducing waste and freeing up resources.
Finally, cognitive rooms can be used to put control back into the hands of patients, giving them the ability to fine-tune their hospital experience and allowing hospital staff more time to focus on patient care.
Have you used technology to improve your patients’ hospital experience? How has it helped? Email us your story.