The last decade has witnessed a complete paradigm shift in the field of healthcare. With the introduction of electronic medical records, electronic health records, telehealth, HIPAA law, MACRA law, Meaningful Use and the list goes on, healthcare has become an important niche of discussion. With so much of advancements happening in healthcare across the globe, the entity who gets the direct or indirect benefit of the metamorphosis, is the patient. Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that, healthcare, these days has become patient centric vs the legacy culture of hospital centric. To add the cherry on the top, JCI (Joint Commission International), which is an apex body for granting quality accreditation to hospitals, have also mandated the use of basic technologies to become eligible for the JCI quality accreditation.
Although, there are endless number of technologies that a hospital can adopt to increase the in-patient satisfaction rate however following are some of the technologies that hospitals can choose to adopt during the initial phase of adoption:-
Internet of Things
Some of the common complaints that the patients normally have are as follows:-
- The patients need to often call the house keeping people for regulating the temperature of the room.
- In case of a shared room, the environment is quite noisy
- The patient has to wait for the nurse to adjust the bed
The environment can be made comfortable for the patient by giving him or her an easy access to execute these tasks without having to depend on the hospital staff. For instance, IBM has a complete solution in a tab where in with the voice command, the patient can control the temperature of the room. In case of a noisy environment, the patient can activate the noise cutting speakers which will make the environment relatively quitter. Further using the tab, the patient can also do basic task like adjust his or her bed, have access to readings recorded in the monitor etc.
The stress and the trauma of the patient admitted in an inpatient ward can be lowered by making the room surroundings comfortable. This can be done by making using of Internet of Things which helps the patient in having control over their room environment.
Bar Coded Medication Administration (BCMA)
As per a survey done by WHO, the highest level of dissatisfaction which the patients have in inpatient ward is due to the medication errors. Since one nurse is assigned to multiple patients, therefore the chances of medication error are high. The best way to address this critical issue is by adopting the Bar Coded Medication Administration technology. This technology works on the 5 R's of pharmacy which are Right drug to Right patient in Right dose and Right quantity through Right route of administration. BCMA helps the nurse follow these 5 R's of pharmacy in order to prevent the medication errors.
How BCMA works?
There is a patient identifier tag on the patient's wrist. When the physician orders a prescription, the pharmacist generates medication labels using EMR systems and paste it on the medication. The label consists of unique medication bar code (normally a National Drug Code along with the stock batch number), unique patient identifier, patient's name, ward etc. These dispensed medications are sent to the nursing ward in a medication cart. The nurse then visits the patient ward and scans the patient's wrist band. This scan helps the electronic medical record to identify the patient and open the medication administration screen. Further, with the scan the medications that need to be administered come out of the medication cart. The nurse then picks up the medication, scans it and record the administration in the electronic medical record. With the BCMA technology, as per WHO, the medication errors have reduced by 95% in the inpatient ward.
As per a research conducted by PWC, it was found that the hospitals who adopted virtual reality (VR) technology in surgical wards had a higher patient satisfaction rate as compared to their legacy way of managing the patient without VR. Virtual reality helps patient lower down the anxiety, experienced during pre as well as post-surgery. Further, the use of virtual reality, has amazed physicians as well as patients in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. To summarize, virtual reality helps relax the environment for patient which helps in reducing the stress.
With the advancements in robotics, hospitals have started using robots for remote patient monitoring and care. With the in-propionate ratio of nurse vs patient, it becomes very difficult for the nurse to have an efficient check on the patient's vitals on the regular basis. This is where robots comes into help. These robots keep a check on patient's vitals and in case of emergency, inform the nurse and the doctor. This has eventually helped in decreasing the mortality rates in hospitals and hence has helped in increasing the patient satisfaction in inpatient.
The number of cyber security thefts have increased across the globe. The hackers have recently started hacking the hospital's database and in return demand for huge amount and as a result of which, the patient's healthcare data, which is as important as anyone's banking data, remains as stake. To prevent hacking, hospitals have started using Electronic Medical Records which work on blockchain technology. This technology is very hard to hack and therefore is considered as the safest way to store patient's healthcare data.
Patient Counselling and Patient Healthcare Portal
Patients often complaint that they tend to forget the instructions given by the physician or the nurse and thereby the compliance to the treatment regime is not 100%. This brings in inefficiency in treatment.
A couple of technology vendors in the market have come up with a concept of patient portal. Patient portal is basically a platform where a patient can log in and access his or her healthcare data. The vitals entered in the EMR, the instructions given by the physician as entered in the EPR etc. are fetched by the patient portal. Now patient also becomes the owner of his or her healthcare data and can access it anytime. The hospitals which have adopted the technology have seen the patient satisfaction rate going up.
To sum it up, at the end of the day, the patient satisfaction is all dependent on how comfortable the patient is during the hospital stay and there is no doubt of the fact that technology plays a significant role in achieving this goal.