Hospitals of the Future: I.T. Enabled Patient Engagement
25 August 2017
The introduction of patient portals highlights not only that the healthcare industry has become more digital, but the realisation for patients to be engaged in their care is vital for successful care outcomes. Healthcare consumers want more control over their care management and ownership of their medical records. They want to have records that follow them, are easily accessible and can be updated as their requirements and health status change. Patient engagement is about connecting with patients, so that healthcare can influence them to be interested and involved in their own care that can benefit not only the healthcare system, but the patient.
Empowering patients and enabling patients to control and manage their care is not a new concept in the healthcare industry. This concept has been well documented and it is evident that patient engagement reduces medical errors, increases the chance of a positive patient experience, increases patient compliance and reduces hospital re-admissions. The concept ticks all the boxes for both patients and hospitals. Then why is it that the healthcare industry, like no other, concedes so much control to an individual? So many times we are telling patients what they need and what to do. All of a sudden, when in hospital, patients medication times change from their normal, commands are made with little or no explanation: wear this paper gown, take this tablet, do not eat that grapefruit and your visitors must leave. Patients lose complete autonomy to the point where they feel helpless and incapable of looking after themselves. Prior to a hospital admission, many patients are self sufficient, managing households, work and even cook an awesome pasta dish! As soon as they become hospitalised, we take all that away. Why do hospitals fear litigation? What if the patient gets it wrong? Who is going to be responsible? The fact is, the more we teach and empower patients, the less likelihood an error in their management is to occur.
Healthcare executive leaders view patient engagement as a top priority and understand that technology is a tool that can be used to give patient access to information and expand interaction.
We have the same vision. We are all about patients. We believe patient experience will be the forefront of driving management of patient care in hospitals and I.T. is a major contributor for this.
In fact, we feel that hospitals in the future may be unrecognisable from how they are today, not only aesthetically, but its subjective impression of ‘keeping patients well’. We started asking questions. Who knows the patient best? Our answer was of course, the patient. Then, we asked the ‘What if’ question. What if, we can bring everything to the patients finger tips. How can we empower patients, give them control over their care and the environment? What if we gave patients opportunities to instruct their care givers and hospitals with what they need?
Future hospitals will partner with patients by knowing their preference, lifestyles and socio-economic status. When patients come into hospitals, they will understand the clinical reasoning, procedure and billing costs. Patients will make appointments with a few clicks on their mobile apps or websites and they will check in with electronic appointment cards.
We are working on creative solutions and resources to help empower people to manage their health and wellbeing that is convenient and simple to use. We can assist patients to consult with their care givers via video conference. We have tools that can integrate patients electronic records and display information such as patient goals, medication, dietary restrictions, scheduled procedures and care history. Our Focused Patient Care Workflow Management System allows patients to see their care plan and the type of care they will be receiving next. We want to keep patients connected to their ‘normal’ that exists beyond the physical walls of the hospital. We want patients to feel comfortable with the care they are receiving and knowledgeable about the treatment and recovery processes. We can tailor their education according to their physical, ethical and socio-economic influences.
We believe technology can humanise the care experience. Technology can equip the healthcare team with the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient and ensure the best and correct care after discharge. We can provide healthcare teams with real time data to help track, monitor and intervene accordingly. We can provide care givers with the most up to date and contextually relevant information at their finger tips at every point of care to reduce medical errors and miscommunication. We want to provide predictive and personalised results, providing a faster, more effective and efficient experience for staff and patients.
Lastly, in order to achieve optimal patient engagement, we believe leaders in healthcare need to play a role alongside their I.T. partners with their I.T. enabled initiatives. We want to work with hospital executives and clinicians on what they are trying to accomplish, their strategies, what behavioural influences from their consumers they are trying to achieve and where their market is heading. We want to work together to figure out how I.T. solutions can help them do all of that.
Angela Caruso is a qualified Division 1 Nurse with over 20 years experience working in critical care in public and private sectors of healthcare, as well as teaching at a postgraduate and undergraduate level in nursing education. She now manages the facilitation of the Rauland Australia and New Zealand integrations, along with a team of technical experts.