By Jeff Fallon
Patients don’t do as they’re told; they do as they are convinced. But how can hospital staff who are already stretched too thin as it is, convince more patients while increasing efficiency and reducing burnout?
If there is any doubt that “the doctor knows best” era gave way to that of patient engagement and shared decision making, consider recent data on discharge medication adherence. Almost half of discharged patients did not adhere to medication changes and 32% came back to the hospital or died within 30 days of discharge. As results indicate, a surprisingly large percentage of patients were not convinced that following doctor’s discharge medication orders was in their best interest. Many other studies also echo these results.
So where do patients turn for insights that drive their health decisions? Dr. Google delivers a modern version of a “house call.” The online behemoth answers nearly one billion health-related search questions every day. In fact, one in three Americans search for health-related insights for themselves or others using the internet. Despite the abundance of health information online and American’s huge appetite for it, trends of broader population do not indicate that access to information alone is the solution.
This range of available information is nothing new. In 1982, John Naisbitt said “we are drowning in information but starved for knowledge”. Can we agree that nobody needs one more source of information these days? Can we also agree it’s true, everybody needs wise guidance from trusted healthcare professionals? Is there any doubt that trusted medical providers are more burned out than ever? If we can agree, then isn’t it also true that asking for more of their already limited time to coach each patient face-to-face is a fool’s errand?
Fortunately, in this era of smartphones, electronic health records and American’s hunger for health information, hospitals are now in a terrific position to cut through the noise and offer individualized coaching rooted in the Hippocratic Oath. Just as the airline industry now relies heavily on software to share vital, accurate information with their customers – to deliver a higher quality experience at a competitive price, while making safety the top priority – hospitals can now do the same with cutting-edge interactive platforms. These state-of-the-art interactive solutions are becoming as essential as infusion pumps in a hospital room.
Interactive Patient Systems (IPS) help patients prepare for their hospital stay by prompting them to view short videos on their smartphones. The videos are automatically “prescribed” by integrating with the hospital electronic medical record, ensuring they align with and demystify each step of the patient’s journey. The care team can then confirm that patients completed and understood this prep using the dashboard feature, freeing them from intervening with those who understand and leaving more time to work with those who don’t.
On the same platform, digital signage across the campus delivers information and imagery that supports the carefully planned experience for each individual location – whether it’s next to an elevator, in the café, or in a staff lounge. Sophisticated marketing teams use these interfaces to engage patients, visitors, and staff alike to support organizational initiatives and increase satisfaction, efficiency and experience. But as cutting-edge as this may sound, it’s elementary compared to the patient-centric transformation through technology that’s also here today.
Smart TVs with entertainment options like the ones Americans have at home are not uncommon in hospital patient rooms today. But these “smart” TVs can be made even smarter through a demographically appropriate IPS interface presented in the patient’s first language. Patient service requests are instantly routed to the right department so that nurses can focus more on clinical care and less on pivoting non-clinical needs to ancillary staff. Infinitely smarter still is the EMR-driven personalization that enables automatic prompting. In this way, patients can view short educational videos based on their clinical condition. The IPS can pause live TV or movies and prompt the patient to view short videos about their diagnoses, procedures, medications and more. These dynamic updates ensure the patient is always in the loop for their care plan. Completion and comprehension of this educational material is automatically documented to the EMR saving hospital care teams valuable time, so they can focus on the clinical demands of their roles.
With a well-planned IPS system installed, hospitals and their medical staff are free to work at the highest level of their clinical authority. Through video, questionnaires, and survey prompts hospitals can educate patients more efficiently while also minimizing documentation workload with a powerful data dashboard. These tremendous reporting capabilities enable improved visibility into a patient care journey and drives better decisions.
Thanks to the years of heavy lifting hospitals did over the last 10 years implementing EHRs and advancements in IPS technologies, informing and empowering patients is now easier than ever for hospitals. The era of patient engagement is here.