Kelly Feist is managing director at Ascom Americas.
At HIMSS 2023, we saw lots of technologies aimed at improving the patient experience on display. From digital whiteboards to products like Amazon’s Alexa and Echo for healthcare, there’s a range of communications-focused solutions designed to optimize the patient experience. However, this highlights a bigger need for ways to bring multiple devices together into a blueprint for what a technology-enabled patient room should look like.
Meeting Patients Where They Are At
As patients become more digitally savvy from their experiences in the marketplace, they’re applying those expectations to healthcare too. Make no mistake. Patients are consumers. And there are real ramifications to hospitals when patients aren’t satisfied. This shows up in HCAHPS scores, stemming from results of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. This national survey serves as a measuring stick for Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement, which is partly based on this survey from patients’ perception of the quality of their care during their hospital stay. With this, one would expect patients to report that technology influences their HCAPS scores. However, one study that looked into this found the opposite. We believe technology is a key enabler of patient satisfaction, but there’s a disconnect because the patient may not see the background technology that leads to operational improvements that impact patient satisfaction across their care journey.
We’ve seen organizations that invest in technology directly related to improving the efficiency and quality of patient care increase their HCAPS scores. These facilities are making operational investments like equipping their nursing staff with mobile devices that give them alerting and alarming capabilities, using role-based scheduling and assignment software to ensure staffing coverage, and implementing medical device integration (MDI) to input and filter data from multiple devices to give nursing staff greater capacity for more proactive care. Intentionally designing the right combination of MDI along with solutions to mobilize medical technology can make a big difference in monitoring and predicting if a patient will require unplanned ICU admittance or other urgent interventions. Yet many patients focus on the technology they see, such as “digital front doors” services like online scheduling and virtual appointments. As the use of remote monitoring grows, I see more patients attributing this technology to increasing their satisfaction with their care experience.
Hospital administrators should take a holistic view of their technology investments so that the sum of all these different technologies will be greater than the total of the parts and can become a competitive differentiator for them in their markets. Whether it’s monitors, ventilator workflow solutions, or even workstations on wheels, they all need to integrate and facilitate a better way to work for nursing staff. For example, having a mobile workstation to store and make mobile devices and other technologies easily accessible makes it easier for nurses to deliver care. The ability for caregivers to bring portable medical devices for monitoring, scanning and lab work contributes to the patient’s overall experience.
Going forward, I hope to see hospitals talking about the underlying technology they use to enhance patient care and how that technology makes a difference. They should expect patients, as informed consumers of healthcare, to come to them asking questions about the technologies that are helping to aid in their care. And increasingly, patients are making decisions on where to receive care based on the answers they get.
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