Balancing Technology With The Personal Needs of Patients
Open up any healthcare journal or attend a healthcare-related conference, and you’ll instantly be hit with headlines about new technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), or virtual reality. While all of these important new tools will likely have a significant impact on patient care in their own respective ways, practitioners cannot lose sight of what’s important to their patients. Today we take a look at how providers can balance the needs of patients within the changing technology landscape we’re living through.
The role of informatics.
Technology continues to innovate the healthcare industry, enabling the sharing and storing of valuable patient data and information. It can also have a meaningful impact on treatment outcomes. A 2016 study found that pathologists looking for metastatic breast cancer had a 3.4% error rate, however, when helped by computers, that number dropped to .5%. While the eventual winners and losers in this space may not be clear for some time, it’s also obvious that a significant amount of investment has already taken place, with much more yet to come. One thing is certain – with momentum on the side of technology and gaining efficiencies, there’s no going back to the past.
Disrupting patient intake.
As we’ve written about before, the role of patient intake has probably been the most impacted by technology thus far. As one of the most visible elements of the patient journey, it’s an easy place for technology to improve the process. That said, it can also be an obstacle. When the digital user experience is broken, or access to a form or app is not working properly, the result can be far more frustrating than completing paper forms. Furthermore, digital intake processes need to improve to capture only the necessary data points in a holistic fashion, not just re-create forms online where patients may need to enter information like a name and address multiple times.
Patient discharge that balances empathy with efficiency.
Particularly in cases of terminally ill patients, discharge and care transitions can be very stressful and traumatic events. As the impetus behind the creation of Project ACHIEVE, a five-year, $15MM study investigating the interventions related to patient transitions, it’s also an area that most hospital systems are examining very closely. Even for those leaving a care event healthier than they came in, there is perhaps no other part of the process more important than the events related to leaving a hospital or care facility. This importance is driven by two reasons. One, re-admittance can be costly to a hospital, so ensuring that patients are both physically and mentally prepared to leave the hospital setting prior to discharge is critical. Two, from a personal standpoint, discharge is the final experience a patient and his or her loved ones may have with a facility, so the impressions made in this stage are more likely to be lasting. As technology continues to impact not only our daily lives but also our healthcare impressions and experiences, ensuring a balance between efficiency and empathy will continue to be critical.