Health tech advancements have come a long way from being innovations in the healthcare space to becoming everyday realities. Technology has a direct impact on the experiences that patients and their caregivers have when interacting with hospitals and healthcare facilities. With the healthcare industry increasingly moving towards a patient-first approach, technology has the potential to act as a facilitator for boosting hospital experiences. Not hopping onto the tech bandwagon can result in you missing out on tapping into a field of boundless possibilities. What’s even more scary is that not having digital administrative processes in the hospital may even act as a deterrent for patients who have come to expect inculcation of technology in all aspects of their life.
According to a recent survey, 20 percent of patients reported that they have dropped their physician owing to poor digital experiences. The good news is, including technology in your hospital workflow isn’t a tough nut to crack. Here are examples of ways technology can be leveraged to furnish an exceptional hospital experience.
1. Wearable technology and remote patient monitoring
Healthcare wearables are increasingly being used to boost patient engagement in inpatient as well as at-home care delivery. Wearable technology can aid in providing a comprehensive overview of patient vitals such as pulse, temperature, respiration, blood pressure, heart rate etc. Instead of relying on monitoring and recording the vitals once or twice a day, the data gets automatically logged throughout the data, aiding in data driven decision making. Similarly, remote patient monitoring can give patients the comfort of care from their own homes while giving physicians the ability to track health conditions remotely. These technologies also make it possible for the patients to have a greater stake in their own health. They can simply log into the connected app and stay up to date on their health stats. Knowledgeable patients are satisfied patients. Having tangible proof of how their health status is changing after receiving medical treatment can keep them engaged and motivated. Use of tech gadgets in healthcare delivery not only improves outcomes, but it also has a positive impact on the experience the patients have with healthcare delivery.
2. Elimination of negative waiting room experiences
Longer wait times have a detrimental effect on patient satisfaction scores and are always associated with negative hospital experiences. If the patient has to wait for a long time to get a chance to meet with the doctor, the hospital experience has already started on a sour note even before the treatment begins. Long wait times not only result in negative hospital experiences, they also affect the patient’s levels of confidence in the care provider and dampen the perceived quality of care. Using technology to optimize the hospital’s current workflow can be a solution to the waiting room woes. Appointment scheduling software shifts the onus of booking the appointments onto the patients. Once the patient chooses the date and time that is feasible and convenient to them, the doctors have the choice to approve the appointment or ask the patient to reschedule. Since the time-slots are predefined, it results in effective scheduling and lowering of the wait times. Lesser time the patient spends in the wait room equals increased levels of satisfaction with the hospital experience.
3. Use of mobile apps to boost patient engagement
Think of just about anything that you may need and chances are that there’s an app for that. So why should healthcare delivery lag behind? Using mHealth applications is proving to be an effective way of boosting the levels of patient engagement and improving the hospital experience. From medication reminder apps to mobile patient portals that give you the overview of the treatment being administered in the palm of your hand, mobile apps in the field of healthcare are here to stay. Patients can also get automated reminders to refill their prescriptions ensuring better health outcomes as well. The use of mobile apps isn’t limited to just the patients either. Hospital wayfinding apps can help visitors navigate through the hospital corridors, remind them where they have parked their car and so much more.
4. Clinical decision making through health analytics
Hospitals and healthcare organizations have complex workflows and delay in any part of it can result in process inefficiencies which can negatively impact the overall hospital experience. Leveraging the power of data through predictive analytics can help in avoiding delays as a result of workflow challenges and aid in clinical decision making. Use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data analytics to formulate a clinical decision support system can accelerate the speed and improve the accuracy of medical diagnosis. It can also help in taking a data-driven approach to reduce the chances of possible medical errors.
5. Improving hospital experiences through innovative technology
Hospital experiences when a patient gets admitted are not always very pleasant. To make matters worse, a lot of people have inherent phobias of hospitalization. Technology can help alleviate their fears and make their hospital stay a positive one. Smart speakers can double up as noise cancelling devices allowing the patients to choose their choice of music while drowning out the noise from the adjacent rooms. They can also control the light and temperature of the room to their liking. What’s more, voice commands to relay messages to the nursing station when in need of any assistance will soon become a norm in the future contributing to positive hospital experiences. Augmented and virtual reality can also be leveraged as a tool to boost patient engagement while keeping them in the loop about the treatment options being followed. A recent survey by Gallup found that patients who knew what to expect after a surgery were twice as satisfied than the patients who were not knowledgeable about the possible outcomes. AR/VR can be leveraged as a tool for patient education and thus improving the hospital experience.
6. Using telemedicine in addition to in-person visits
Technology allows for opening up of channels of communication between physicians and patients. Rather than calling up patients to the hospital every time a follow-up visit is required, the provider-patient interactions can take place virtually anywhere. The patient’s can even choose the format of interaction that they prefer. They might do it over video calls, audio calls or even through secure, end-to-end encrypted text messaging. Having control over the venue and frequency of communication results in positive experiences while boosting the health outcomes. A recent survey found out that 83 percent of patients actually prefer to get reminders from their physicians for taking medications, following through on the prescribed drug and exercise regimen and scheduling of the future follow up appointments. It’s not just the patients who look forward to having virtual communication. 91 percent of the caregivers also reported that they would also be in favor of communicating with their loved ones’ physicians through text messaging. Telemedicine makes it all possible while raising the hospital experience bar higher.
Patient satisfaction is a quality metric that would always remain important. The hospital experience that the patients have during their length of stay, the interactions they have before and after the treatment and the technology that is used to infuse innovation in care will all play a role in determining the levels of satisfaction. As the healthcare industry continues to experience large scale disruption and tech-driven innovation, using technology can be the secret sauce that your hospital needs to succeed.
This article was originally published on the Arkenea blog and is republished here with permission.