Mobile Application Consolidation Leads to Better Patient Engagement and Care
Recently our Director of Healthcare was walking with a CIO though his hospital. As they were waiting for the elevator they happened to see a patient get on the freight elevator. A few moments later he came back out on the same floor looking frustrated. Luckily the CIO was able to direct him where he needed to go but let me ask you this…wouldn’t it be better if the patient was guided through a mobile application and never frustrated in the first place?
In today’s world of constant connectivity, more healthcare organizations are realizing there is a need to improve the patient experience through mobility. Thanks to the prevalence of mobile technologies and apps, there are so many ways to engage patients and caregivers in the digital realm. Guests however are easily overwhelmed by the range of solutions they are being asked to adopt to be connected to their healthcare. There’s an easier way!
Unifying the Patient Experience
Oftentimes the first point of contact with a healthcare organization is through some kind of mobile technology, whether it be a wayfinding app that brings guests in the door or scheduling an appointment online. The process of finding and accessing all the information that is needed may involve navigating many disconnected app solutions.
But when it comes to patient satisfaction, enabling a simplified mobile experience is critical. Jumping through hoops to get information is the last thing patients want. Take for example a patient who has spent a long night in a hospital with their aging parent who is finally resting. They are exhausted and walking around looking for something to eat. With a consolidated mobile platform, you can direct them to the nearest place to get food, no more walking around aimlessly. They can get what they need and sit down to relax. With mobile benefits like these, healthcare organizations are investing in technology to provide a better patient experience through mobility. Since patient satisfaction is essential for HCAHPS and reimbursements, enabling an efficient mobile network that can help improve these scores is now more important than ever.
Your guests have come to expect a seamless and secure Mobile experience from applications to your network. When joining your wireless network, for instance, they want it to be as simple as connecting to Wi-Fi at their neighborhood coffee shop. Selfishly, you want this ease of use as well because the more difficult it is to connect to your network, the harder it will be to connect them with other mobile solutions like applications and push notifications.
Likewise, they are only willing to engage with apps and services that save them time. Many healthcare organizations have a portal for patient information, another application for appointment scheduling, an application for telemedicine…Healthcare organizations are looking to enable mobility in their environments but a complex environment with multiple entry points will not gain adoption with patients or clinicians. Healthcare administrations need to find a way to provide a range of solutions that all work seamlessly together to enhance the mobile experience.
Many are turning to integrated mobile platforms to ensure a seamless experience and help boost patient satisfaction. With a mobile platform, guests can have a simplified and unified experience. Everything they need can be found in one easy-to-use enterprise-wide mobile application – your “digital front door.” For the IT Team, that means they can manage one unified platform that is hardware agnostic. The technology that enables this can bring together many useful features that patients and staff alike can appreciate.
This might include access to electronic healthcare records through Epic’s MyChart. It may also feature turn-by-turn driving directions with Google Maps, and blue dot wayfinding within the hospital walls enabled by Bluetooth and location-aware services. Whatever the feature, it can be accessed from a single platform on an integrated mobile solution.
These kinds of systems can come with all the tools to engage patients and guests with more effective marketing. Point of sale systems allow them to order food or merchandise right from their devices for in-room delivery or pick-up. They can opt in for push notifications to be alerted when a prescription is ready, and they can get instant directions to the nearest pharmacy. It’s all about helping them achieve the convenience that is made possible by mobile technology and improving the overall patient experience.
True mobility can also enable better patient care through telemedicine while decreasing ER wait times. Put yourself in the patients shoes for a minute. They have an infant who just finished bath time and is now breaking out in hives all over their body. The normal process would be to drive to the ER, wait for hours, all the while worrying about your child and what is happening. The new normal can be using the app to launch a quick face to face telemedicine discussion. The doctor can help you quickly run through a list of vital signs to tell you if you need to worry or if you are simply a nervous parent with a healthy baby who is having a mild reaction. Which would you prefer?
Infrastructure and Network Concerns
For most healthcare organizations, their general purpose infrastructures were not designed to handle the current influx of wireless-enabled mobile devices. This inevitably leads to lag time and strained wireless networks that cannot handle the added traffic. Not only does this hurt guests’ individual experiences, but it can also detract from critical applications such as wireless patient care monitors and other devices that require bandwidth in order to run properly. Reliable wireless is the foundation of a strong mobile patient experience.
It’s probably one of the first places to start when considering a healthcare mobile technology solution. Ensure that the proper wireless system is in place, and then pick and choose the services you want to provide to amplify patient mobile engagement. Gradual implementation is often critical for healthcare, integration of new features and staging over time is often better for the pocket than a full rip and replace solution. The first step before implementing any kind of technology might be to look at how resources are provisioned. Older, slower devices with lower transmit rates can slow the entire network. On the other hand, a solution to manage and prioritize traffic prevents older, slower clients from monopolizing RF bandwidth resources.
With Remote Access Points (RAPs), which can be easily deployed in doctors’ offices, ambulatory facilities and patient residencies, hospitals can extend data, voice and medical device access beyond a central location. This allows for a truly seamless telemedicine experience, with fast and secure connectivity to medical resources.
From a management standpoint, IT administrators have greater control when mobile technologies are consolidated on a single platform. Contrast this with having a range of disparate solutions that all require specialists to maintain and run effectively. Simplifying the mobile network enables greater agility and pushes towards the final goal of increased patient satisfaction.
Delivering an acceptable level of connectivity is just the start. There is so much more that can be offered to engage with patients and visitors and to enhance guest experiences. Solutions that integrate Wi-Fi, role-based access control, and mobile apps on one platform offer the best capabilities for patient engagement. From a user experience standpoint, the convenience of accessing everything within a single platform reinforces the unified healthcare experience. No matter what kind of services they are trying to engage with, patients can always find the information they need from a single source.
Bill Flatley, Field CTO for Healthcare
Bill is responsible for technical strategies and recommendations for Comport’s Healthcare clients. His extensive experience includes four healthcare systems in leadership roles supporting Clinical Applications, Digital Health, and Office of the CIO as the primary liaison between IT and the business.