Enhancing the Post-Pandemic Patient Experience

By Clay Anderson, Product Manager, CenTrak
Twitter: @CenTrak

Healthcare has shifted over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Elective surgeries came to a halt, visitor restrictions were put in place, ‘telehealth’ became a familiar word in the patient’s lexicon, and the world’s view of healthcare and its workers changed. While patients became increasingly aware of the risks surrounding them when entering a healthcare facility, healthcare leaders increasingly recognized the priority of the patient experience. To satisfy the growing demand for safety, privacy, and access that enables the best in patient care, the healthcare industry accelerated its demand for low-cost, easy-to-implement technology solutions.

Relieving Pressure on Patients and Hospital Margins

It’s no secret that healthcare has suffered as a result of the pandemic. Revenue is down and many healthcare workers are experiencing burnout. According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), “margins of America’s hospitals will remain depressed throughout 2021, the percentage of hospitals with negative margins will likely increase, and the financial health of rural hospitals will be significantly affected.” These financial strains, combined with increased stress placed on healthcare workers and expanding consumer expectations, highlight the growing importance of technology to alleviate these pressures.

Healthcare facilities need an economical response to higher patient expectations and their desire for high-quality care to be integrated with convenient, technologically advanced innovations. During the pandemic, consumers have gotten used to a touch-free, digital experience. Be it QR codes for menus or virtual check-ins for appointments, consumers want intuitive interactions that maintain a high level of health safety. At the same time, the many healthcare systems that are still experiencing the fallout of COVID-19 must remain competitive. By implementing new technology, healthcare facilities show that they are a leader in the industry while improving the patient and visitor experience.

Real-time Location Systems (RTLS) Satisfy the Challenges of Cost & Experience

When it comes to selecting a provider or healthcare facility, patients who have become increasingly tech-savvy have more options now than ever before. As healthcare customers, patients in non-emergent situations can easily take their business elsewhere. This challenges the healthcare industry to identify technology solutions that are easy to implement for an optimal patient experience, and that also deliver a return on investment by reducing operating costs for the provider. Real-time location systems provide a means to enhance the patient experience while delivering significant efficiencies for medical facilities.

Real-time location systems (RTLS) offer use cases such as contact tracing, wayfinding, nurse call automation, and asset tracking that can integrate with hospital systems already in place, creating a seamless and efficient experience for both staff and patients. The relatively simple and now ubiquitous technology of QR codes sustained restaurants over the past year and are also providing navigation support for patients, visitors, and staff in healthcare facilities. This type of digital wayfinding allows patients to navigate the sometimes overwhelming healthcare campus without having to stop and ask for directions. Limiting contact with others decreases the risk of infection and also frees up staff members to focus on patient care and other priorities.

Digital Wayfinding – Identifying Simple and Interactive Solutions

Patients are already burdened by the health issues that bring them to medical facilities; they don’t also need the added stress of not being able to find their way around the campus. With the technology currently available, it is possible to offer an interactive wayfinding experience to patients as they navigate various healthcare campuses. Ideally, the digital wayfinding solution will not require indoor positioning, apps to download, or RTLS hardware such as Bluetooth beacons.

Integrating with patient portal systems, a provider can send text messages with appointment reminders that include convenient parking recommendations and walking directions to upcoming destinations such as the doctor’s office, clinical lab, and pharmacy. Providing these details ensures a smooth arrival and positively impacts the patient experience. Furthermore, helping patients prepare for their appointments reduces late or missed appointments which often incur costly delays and missed revenue opportunities. By reducing patient anxiety and increasing staff efficiency, healthcare leaders will continue to improve how care is delivered in a post-pandemic world.