Better patient engagement through better technology

“What we see increasingly is that engaged patients have better outcomes.”  That statement may seem intuitive and grounded in common sense, but it is a paradigm shift in healthcare. The statement wasn’t just made by anyone, but by Kevin Tabb, MD, President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA.  The need to empower the patient and give them a voice in their care is critical as we move as an industry from “volume” of patients to the “value” we place on the outcomes of patients.

How does the health care industry tackle such a daunting challenge?  One way is through technology.  Patients and loved ones do not enter an episode of care leaving their expectations of technology and connectivity behind.  Today over 80 per cent of adults have cellphones and 60 per cent of those are smartphones!

Doctors and clinicians routinely access reference material on their mobile devices and patients have access to their medical records through a patient portal or direct access to part of their electronic medical record.  The question is how to tie all of the technology options, apps, and expectations together to get the best patient experience possible and the highest clinical outcomes possible.

One way is to invest in a patient engagement platform. This technology adds value and ties together the touch points that drive improved patient engagement.  Whether it is simple entertainment or a review at bedside of a complex scan, the ability to deliver the right information at the right time is key to meeting the patient’s needs.

Patient engagement technology brings together an enterprise wide software solution that connects patients to the “outside” world as well as to important information about their hospital stay and more importantly about their discharge and post discharge requirements.  Lincor Solutions, is one of the companies that provide a complete hardware and software solution to help hospitals achieve better outcomes and better patient engagement.

Dr. Eddie Simpser, CMO, of St Mary’s Hospital for Children in New York, NY explains how interactive patient technology brings value to his hospital.  “The device and software functions like a tablet computer and TV that lets patients not only choose their entertainment, but also interact with the real world to improve the quality of their hospital experience. At the same time, our staff uses it to access the EMR, chart at the bedside and educate patients.  We find it brings a very high value to the hospital.”

Solutions like these have many advantages over a simple television in a hospital room or clinic. The interactive platform allows the hospital to give access to the patient for important items such as patient education around their condition, instructions about their medications, and planning around discharge and follow up post discharge.  All of these actions can be automated and monitored to proactively help the clinicians monitor where the patient and family are in the understanding of their condition and care plan. As part of a comprehensive care plan, patient engagement can clearly reduce readmission risks, medication errors, and begin to predict which patients need more resources to assure the highest possible outcome.

One recent study gave nearly 15,000 patients access to their electronic medical record and more than 77 per cent of patients reported they felt more in control of their care and 60 per cent reported doing a better job of taking their medications because of the access.

Another area patient engagement technology creates a better experience is the automation of many manual processes related to a patient’s stay. This drives up the efficiency of the clinical staff and addresses the concerns or requests the patient has during their stay.  For example, a patient can access their customized dietary and menu options based on their condition and order their food directly from the dietary system. If a patient needs a “comfort item” such as a glass of water, ice, or an adjustment to their room, they can “order” those items directly to the support staff and not have to ask a nurse to send in the request.

Engaged patients matter.  It’s good for outcomes and it’s good for business. Using technology to improve the experience of the patient and the interaction with the physician, drives better outcomes and lowers cost. The next time your organization focuses on ways to improve patient engagement, include a patient engagement technology solution to help drive your success.

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