How Connected Healthcare Technology Helps Physicians and Patients Thrive

The patient experience in healthcare is going digital, and so are hospital rooms. From using digital signage and smart TVs to better engage and educate patients, to retrieving lab results through the electronic health record (EHR), to discharging patients with technology “kits” including tablets and remote monitoring devices, hospitals are using technology to create a connected healthcare system in what we call “smart patient rooms”. Advances in mobile and wearable display technology integrated into the smart patient room now allow physicians and medical practitioners to spend less time on administration and more time doing what they do best: take care of patients.

Enable a better hospital experience

Using technology to make care more streamlined and efficient is our raison d’être, and patients agree.

With a focus in recent years on EHR implementation, we have seen improvements in quality of care and established technology platforms to streamline operations to improve the patient experience. However, one area that has yet to benefit from the EHR is the patient-physician relationship. In some cases, physicians may be more focused on the computer screen and documenting patient visit details than observing body language and subtle clues about the patient’s condition. This has the potential to negatively impact patient satisfaction, which is directly linked to provider scores in the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, and affects reimbursements. Additionally, with more focus on the computer screen and less on the patient-physician relationship, there is also a significant risk that patient outcomes could suffer.

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Some hospitals have taken notice and started implementing technology solutions that leverage mobile and display technologies to improve patient engagement. A leading academic medical center uses screen mirroring technology to transfer images from a tablet to a wall-mounted display during radiology consultations. As the physician reviews and discusses the diagnosis and treatment plan with the patient and family, the physician is able to mirror relevant images and information from the tablet onto the large format wall-mounted display of the Consultation room. The patient, family members and doctor can then view the images on the large high-definition screen, which promotes a better understanding of the condition and the proposed procedure. Additionally, annotations can be made, saved and then shared with the patient.

Another example of innovation is New York Presbyterian Hospital, where electronic boards are placed in every patient room. These large displays help keep patients informed of key information, including who is on their healthcare team (as well as photos and contact information) and their daily schedule of tests and procedures. “I love seeing who my doctor is on screen and knowing what’s going on during the day,” says a Presbyterian patient from New York.

Mobile devices streamline communications

Smart patient rooms can also capture and transmit data from medical monitoring devices to smartphones worn by nurses, providers and other healthcare personnel. Historically, nurses relied on pagers, old telephones, and nurse call lights to receive physiological alerts and patient requests. Today, nurses can receive this information as alert notifications directly on smartphones in their pockets, and can use these same devices to quickly communicate with other members of the care team. A healthcare communications company, Voalte, is putting smartphones in the hands of caregivers at the bedside, allowing them to communicate with anyone anytime, anywhere.

“By integrating with a hospital’s existing technologies and designing intuitive communication solutions based on the phones people carry every day, we are helping caregivers focus more on care delivery and less on technology” , says Adam McMullin, President and CEO of Voalte. “Voalte helps improve patient safety, achieve high-quality patient outcomes, and improve caregiver productivity by delivering information directly to the appropriate caregiver’s smartphone.”

The power of patient engagement

The key to a successful smart patient room is creating an intuitive user experience for patients and healthcare providers through devices, displays and apps. Baptist Memorial Health Care’s EHR platform, Baptist OneCare, is a great example of how in-room technology helps patients engage in their healing and stay out of hospital longer. Like New York Presbyterian, the Baptist Memorial’s smart patient rooms consist of large touch screens displaying the patient’s vital signs and information from the medical team. Patients also receive 10-inch tablets to view their medical records, test results and treatment schedules; communicate with their care providers; and receive training in disease management. Using these tablets or their own devices, patients can access the Epic MyChart portal app to schedule appointments, request refills, and contact their care team. Approved family members can also download and use Epic MyChart to see what’s going on with loved ones.

The ability to access personal medical information can help the healing process, according to Chris Attendorf, director of Baptist OneCare Inpatient Nursing/Clinical Areas in Baptist-Memphis. “Anytime you have patient and/or family engagement, the patient will do much better,” she explains. “They know what’s going on and what to expect. They know what questions to ask and what to look for, which usually results in better care. This keeps them out of the hospital for longer periods. That’s really what this stage of health care is all about – better management of patients through the clinic and hospital, and getting them home.

Smarter Hospital TVs

On average, patients have their TVs on between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. while in hospital. Healthcare TVs have the potential to enhance the in-room entertainment experience by integrating EHR information to deliver relevant content related to procedures and recovery. The technology also tracks patient engagement rates so they can be prompted to view more information if needed.

Through the deployment of Samsung Health TVs with Telehealth Services, Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Hospital in Southern California saw an 8% increase in patients who “understand their condition” and a 12% increase in % of patient satisfaction rate at the hospital. Additionally, Kaiser Panorama City saw a 12% reduction in pneumonia and cardiac readmission cases after implementing the TeleHealth Services patient education solution on smart TVs. Nationwide, at New York’s Elmhurst Hospital Center, patient education via video increased 93% and patient satisfaction levels increased by double digits year over year.

Another important element of the patient education engagement strategy is the deployment of bedside tablets that are directly linked to patient education materials. Using Sonifi Health’s interactive patient education solution, patients at Texas Health Resources in Dallas, TX can view patient education materials on their healthcare televisions and answer related questions on bedside tables. Hospital clinical staff can then check to see if patients have completed specific learning modules and/or if they need additional training and support on certain topics.

Continuing care outside the hospital

Some hospitals are closing the care loop by extending the smart room experience into patients’ homes. At Children’s Health in Dallas, pediatric transplant patients and healthcare providers collaborate on a post-discharge care program that combines Vivify Health’s platform with Samsung Galaxy tablets. Patients use tablets and Bluetooth-enabled devices daily to record their blood pressure, weight, and other biometric data, and healthcare providers access this information to follow up on patients through video conferencing or home visits. All data is integrated with the patient’s EHR so providers can access all historical and real-time information in one place.

This program has been extremely well received. Vivify Health reports that 100% of medical staff and 95% of patients are satisfied with the program and that length of stay has decreased. Patients who normally had to come in twice a week for follow-up appointments can now receive the same care via videoconference.

These are just a few examples of how connected technologies are improving healthcare efficiency inside and outside of hospitals. In the HIMSS 2016 Connected Health Survey, 47% of IT and clinical professionals surveyed said they plan to expand their use of connected health technologies in the next few years. The survey also finds that hospitals are using a range of connected health technologies, from text messages to mobile-optimized patient portals similar to those used at Children’s Health and Baptist Memorial. The exponential amount of data that each of these technologies generate underscores the need for a common communication platform to facilitate this growth and, more broadly, the industry’s goal of achieving value-based care. As technology providers, patients and medical staff work together to create a connected healthcare system, a future with more efficient and cost-effective care is in evidence.

Want to learn more about how technology can create a more connected patient experience? Find out how the traditional waiting room becomes a patient engagement center.

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