The 21st Century Patient Experience

Allen Bernard, Tech Journalist | 11/21/2012 | 34 comments

Allen Bernard
A brand new hospital built by the Nemours foundation is using technology to improve not only efficiency and outcomes but to enhance the patient experience.

In this case, the patients are kids with chronic illnesses who spend a lot of time either in a hospital room or traveling to and from the hospital for treatments.

A big source of stress for anyone who has spent much time in hospitals is the large number of healthcare providers who come and go every day. Nemours is using RFID-embedded ID tags and a reader integrated into the doorway to tell patients who is coming and going, and they display it on the in-room television.

Another way they are trying to use technology to make kids more comfortable is by storing preferences for kids if they make return visits. When they arrive, their room is already stocked with their favorite video games, Website bookmarks, friend lists, and other electronic entertainment pre-loaded for their comfort. The lighting and temperature can be set the way the child prefers, the blinds covering the floor-to-ceiling glass windows may be set to provide just the right amount of view or light.

Once the children are onsite, hospital surveillance, RFID, facilities, clinical scheduling, and other systems work together, behind the scenes, to ensure their safety and security. Other systems coordinate in-room maintenance and related activities to occur when a child is getting an X-ray or otherwise out of the room.

All of this is designed to enhance the child's sense of control in an inherently "out of control" setting. The business world would call this a "soft ROI" or "soft metric" -- a metric that everyone knows matters but one that defies quantification and is therefore overlooked on your MBA's spreadsheet.

What Nemours did was rethink how processes and near-field technologies could be combined with a IP-friendly building to make patients less fearful, more comfortable, and "a member of the family" in many ways.

"Consumerism in healthcare is a predictable consequence of the information age. Patients are increasingly informed, connected, and mobile," said Nemours' chief medical information officer Dr. David Milov when I spoke with him.

But this isn't only about making kids feel better. It is also about providing the best care in the most efficient way.

Milov continued:

At the bedside, IT allows measurement and accountability essential to documenting improvement. A sequence of actions is a basis for Quality Improvement -- PDSA [plan, do, study, act]. Electronic systems permit the measurement and display of activities within a given process. Healthcare transactions are complex and certain resources are scarce.

This is music to a CFO's ears since a big problem in hospitals is waste. Equipment, supplies, and labor are all a premium in a hospital, but often the hospital doesn't know who is doing what, where they are doing it, with what equipment, and how long it is or will take to get done.

And there's the value CIOs can provide the hospital environment -- they can marry soft metric value like customer comfort and security with hard measure metrics like bed turnover to make a better hospital environment for everyone. But to do so, they need to re-examine the process of everything that goes on in the patient's room.

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soozyg   The 21st Century Patient Experience   5/31/2013 12:57:57 PM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts
michaelsumastre where is "here"?
michaelsumastre   The 21st Century Patient Experience   5/31/2013 12:21:46 PM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts
It's tough here, @soozyg. We have two options when it comes to health care. One, we get a private health insurance on top of that provided by the government since the latter is usually not enough to cover most of the costs. Two, just wait for you to get sick really bad before you see a doctor. If I'll ask some of my more educated friends right now, definitely only a few of them know those terms simply because we are not as involved as we should be when it comes to health. 
soozyg   The 21st Century Patient Experience   2/26/2013 8:28:56 AM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts

only a good number of people know about oncologists or cardiologists

Really? I didn't realize that. If that's true, it certainly explains why so many people go to the ER.
michaelsumastre   The 21st Century Patient Experience   2/26/2013 7:26:39 AM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts
Soozyg, I think what you mean is that cancer patients, for example, should just proceed to a specialist than the emergency room. You are right. I'd do the same thing. But a number of my friends would normally begin their treatment in the emergency room, and usually it has something to do with the lack of idea of where to go. Honestly, despite the prevalence of cancer or other serious disorders, only a good number of people know about oncologists or cardiologists. They have to rely on general practitioners to tell them where to go or who to approach. 
soozyg   The 21st Century Patient Experience   2/22/2013 8:22:10 PM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts
@Michaelsumastre I agree that the media likes to stir the pot. Also, due to many many lawsuits, drug companies and doctors have to give patients every possible side effect and problem outcome, even if it just showed up once in a result in a lab.

So let's say you read that cancer or a tumor is a possible diagnosis. I still don't get why people would go to an emergency room for treatment.
michaelsumastre   The 21st Century Patient Experience   2/20/2013 11:31:16 PM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts
But I also think, soozyg, that the health paranoia a lot of people have these days has something to do with the media as well.  A few weeks ago, I suffered from a terrible stomach pain, and it lasted for about 2 days. I decided to make some research online and came up with diseases including stomach cancer! I wouldn't want to believe it, of course, but it scared the living daylights out of me. So I went to the doctor and found out it was just a typical stomach bug. 
soozyg   The 21st Century Patient Experience   1/2/2013 1:12:46 PM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts
Yes, and non emergency patients tax the system on time, $, staff, resources, etc.

It is much more expensive for people to use the hospital than to wait for the doctor's office. And hospitals spend a lot of time and money then searching out the non-cash patients for payment.
michaelsumastre   The 21st Century Patient Experience   1/2/2013 10:04:53 AM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts
I do believe that some of these emergency visits are not necessary. I have an uncle who is a hypochondriac. He seldom gets sick, but if he feels a headache, for example, that's different from what he felt before, he would immediately seek his doctor. Sometimes he would rush into the ER if he felt the pain during weekends. It's a waste of time really, since there are people who need more urgent and necessary care than he, but because he can make his condition sound so complicated and risky, he's immediately attended to. 
michaelsumastre   The 21st Century Patient Experience   1/2/2013 10:00:53 AM
The 21st Century Patient Experience
That's so sweet of the hospital to do that to the kids. I don't have a kid myself, but I have a lot of friends who do, and sometimes I get to accompany them to visits to their doctors and dentists. You can really sense the level of discomfort they have dealing with these health care professionals. They're not mean people. It's just that maybe they grow up with the idea that they can be "dangerous," based on stories from friends and from what they get from the Internet and other media. 
David Wagner   The 21st Century Patient Experience   12/14/2012 3:25:44 PM
Re: Customer Satisfaction Counts
@soozyg- It is a mix. But included in that are people who choose to go on a weekend or at night who could have waited until regular office hours. You decide how you feel about that, because obviously there are two sides to that.
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