Transforming Hospital TVs into Health Literacy Hubs

The Key to Patient Engagement and Loyalty

By Adam DeRocher, Vice President, Lincata
LinkedIn: Adam DeRocher
LinkedIn: Lincata

One of the leading obstacles to positive patient engagement in hospitals and healthcare centers is low health literacy. That is, the ability of patients to obtain and understand basic information about their medical status and treatment options in order to make care decisions.

Indeed, The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) says, “More than one-third of U.S. adults – an estimated 80 million persons – have limited health literacy, making it more difficult for them to read, understand, and apply health information.”

This knowledge gap makes it challenging for many patients to grasp important information on medication bottles, appointment slips, discharge instructions, informed consent documents, medical forms, insurance applications, medical bills, food labels, and health education materials.

Low health literacy is more significant in some segments of the population and is made even worse when a patient is confined to a hospital bed for any length of time with limited stimulation. And as numerous studies have revealed, there is a direct correlation between low health literacy and overall health decline in patients.

Improving health literacy must be a top priority in the growing digital healthcare environment. Patients should have access to devices and tools that can better educate them and help them manage the in-hospital and post-hospital experience. That will improve patient engagement, loyalty, wellness, and satisfaction.

Equally important, health systems need ways to encourage patients to utilize services. That improves the overall quality of patient care, of course. However, it also leads to repeat patient visits with care providers and service providers and boosts revenue.

The first step in that process is to provide easier access to hospital apps and interactive web portals where patients can view records and book appointments. The obvious device to serve in this role is the in-room television. Hospitals and health systems invest millions to acquire and engage patients digitally, but the missing link lies in patient hospital rooms. Connecting in-room TVs with patient-focused content is an incredible opportunity to engage patients, improve health literacy, enable access to care, build loyalty, and create an overall better patient experience – all of which contribute to health system profitability.

Filling idle hours with access to healthcare information and services

Typically, hospital patients spend about 11 hours – or 85% of their waking time – watching in-room TVs. Occupying their time and attention could be soap operas, game shows, or sitcom reruns. This is the perfect time to get their eyes off normal programming and educate patients with various health-related information and services directly related to them.

Forward-thinking health systems recognize the power of converting basic televisions into interactive digital hubs. These devices can easily integrate with electronic health records, prescription systems, patient education tools, and customer relationship management software to populate screens with personalized information based on each patient’s individual condition. Hospitals can use such systems to introduce QR codes that facilitate the adoption of mobile apps, which patients can use to book appointments, fill prescriptions, and communicate with caregivers.

This ability to access services and directly make appointments with in-network providers is important. Patients cite the lack of access as the primary reason they seek treatment elsewhere. Patients are also much more likely to show up for follow-up appointments the closer the appointment is booked following treatment.

There’s no better time to reach a patient than when they are in the hospital bed, already thinking about their health. Patients can use their screen time to coordinate care – whether it is scheduling physical therapy appointments, booking follow-up visits with physicians, or filling a prescription from the hospital pharmacy. This leads to improved engagement, better quality outcomes, and ultimately increased revenue for the health system.

Boosting customer engagement, loyalty, and satisfaction

The value of that customer loyalty can’t be understated, especially considering how many patients will likely be served in each room annually. A typical hospital or healthcare center experiences 50 patients per bed per year.

Taking advantage of existing in-room TVs, health systems have a ready-made opportunity to build patient loyalty through personalized content and specifically target services that meet patients’ needs. Key to such features is the interpretation of patient data, which is automatically collected and analyzed to provide links to information related to the patient’s medical condition or disease, history, treatments, providers, and recommended sources and services.

For instance, newly implemented features such as welcome videos can showcase available services, introduce medical personnel, and offer guidance on a patient’s discharge process and post-hospital care, including medication details, appointments, and instructions. These videos can also prepare patients for their hospital stay, provide guidance on managing medication post-discharge, and demonstrate how the health system continues to support their needs post-hospitalization. Leveraging videos in this way can serve as a crucial tactic for enhancing health literacy, particularly among underserved communities.

Health system executives will find that such in-room marketing solutions are important in improving health literacy, leading to better-engaged patients and improved outcomes. Patients want easily accessible information about their health conditions, experiences, and available services. They want to be in control of scheduling services and appointments. And they want all of these capabilities to be immediate. In-room patient marketing solutions give them that control, along with better experiences for improved loyalty.