My name is Heather Wood, and I am a CPXP (certified patient experience professional) and vice president of clinical innovation at eVideon. Over the last three plus decades I have worked in a variety of spaces within healthcare including public and community health where I got my start, as well as corporate wellness, hospital patient education, and healthcare technology. I have specifically worked in healthcare technology and patient experience for more than 20 years which has been a perfect fit blending my range of experience.
Patient engagement and improving the patient experience can mean many different things. What does it mean to you?
To me, because of my focus, it means using smart technology to provide personalized information along with very well-developed education, delivered to patients and their loved ones in order to improve their self-health efficacy, as well as their ability to have more meaningful discussions with their healthcare providers, and ultimately their ability to care for themselves as best as possible.
For the best possible outcomes, technology driven patient education and information should:
Be delivered to the device the patient feels most comfortable using
Share targeted information and education specific to the patient’s current stage of care, the information and education should include the ability to be repeated and shared. The information should be short, specific, digestible, and written at/about a 5th grade reading level and is available in the patients preferred language.
Deliver education and information in real-time to maintain consistency and minimize the nurse’s burden. In doing so, nurses will have more time to provide quality bedside care – which will result in greatly improved patient experiences and when possible, better health outcomes.
Offer easy access to relaxation and entertainment content in order to ease patient stress levels which allows for better rest and sleep, and overall facilitate a more positive experience.
Be interoperable. All shared information must be a consistent and accurate across all technologies and come from the source of truth.
Provide the ability for patients and loved ones to easily connect with technology so they can see and hear each other when they cannot be together. Given the pandemic, patient engagement should also prioritize patient interactions with their support systems. Video visits created just for healthcare are critical to care – especially for end-of-life and isolation.
The ability to use technology to provide real time service recovery and offering service requests that go directly to the service line being requested, without adding to the nurse’s steps.
As you see it, what are the gaps or missed opportunities in patient engagement?
Patient engagement technology has become a “have to have” instead of what used to be a nice to have. The most significant gap is not all healthcare organizations, across the continuum of care, have invested in a technology platform that offers their patients, loved ones and their staff easy access to consistent, efficient and effective education, information, communication and entertainment/relaxation. Starting small is completely okay, having a solid technology platform to build on, with a partner who is willing to create with the healthcare team, is critical to easing clinical burden, improving patient experience, and health outcomes. Using a patient experience platform also improves the confidence patients, and the community have in the healthcare organization by demonstrating that they are using the most innovative ways to care for their patients.
Like retail and education before it, a major shift is underway in the healthcare industry that is putting power back in consumers’ hands. Similar to how retail outlets are delivering custom experiences based on consumer preferences, or how there is more attention to individual needs in the classroom, patients are able to play a more active role in their healthcare administration and decision-making than ever before. This means participating in a shared decision-making model with physicians, seeing their needs and preferences reflected in the course of their treatment, and easier access to their medical data, made readily available to both the patient and his or her medical team.
This article will explore the phenomenon that is PCC, a paradigm shift changing the healthcare industry at its core. So much so, PCC is driving adoption of three technology related trends that are in line with its principles. They include: telemedicine, cloud computing and mHealth.
Patient Centered Care and 2016 Healthcare IT Trends
While many assumed in-facility care would remain the norm after house calls faded from popularity decades ago, that may not be the case. Increasingly, telemedicine — or remote consultations, diagnoses, and treatment performed by medical professionals — is becoming a standard practice in the healthcare industry.
For example, the below ad from Anthem BlueCross and LiveHealth Online was released by one of the nation’s largest insurance agencies promoting remote consultations states the “doctor is always in” and sessions are “quick and easy with no appointments and no driving.”
In line with the principles of PCC, telehealth promises greater access to care for patients who don’t live in close proximity to a healthcare facility. For the greater population, telehealth offers convenience and the comfort of care delivered in a patient’s natural environment. Administering care in a patient’s environment instead of a traditional healthcare setting can also facilitate better care in some cases. Fierce Healthcare provides the example of blood pressure screening – taking a patient’s blood pressure in a natural setting, like their home or workplace, may more accurately reflect their blood pressure on a daily basis.
Telehealth and the benefits this practice offers to patients are perfectly in line with the patient-centric approach favored today. In light of this, it wouldn’t be surprising if telemedicine adoption continues to rise in the coming years, along with the demand for technology that can facilitate remote care.
The American Osteopathic Foundation recently named Dr. Anne Brooks the 2012 physician of the year, for several reasons in which I have described here.
In a nutshell, she’s compassionate, caring and loving of all her patients, and as a nun, it probably helps that she relies on a little help from above.
But, even with her country doctor ways in which she still makes house calls, helps teach her patients to read and write, and building community centers and Habitat for Humanity homes with her own hands, she’s connected technologically – using an electronic health record in her practice – and is informed of many of the latest issues affecting healthcare and healthcare policy.
As a practicing physician, she also serves in the hospital setting, and she drives care for patients while in people’s homes, caring for them in their own environments. As such, she is considered a partner by those lives she’s touched, and she’s seen a great deal of change at the practice level.
The following are a few of her observations from 20 years of practice.
How has patient care changed since you became a physician in 1983?
There are mid-level providers on the scene who are not always appreciated by the patients, who seem to think they need a doctor or by their physician colleagues who often look down on them because it’s a less intense training.
There are RNs who get a doctorate in nursing, but what we need is bedside nurses who care physically and emotionally for and about patients.What I see happening is often the best nurses end up being paper pushers because of new and complicated regulations and disease tracking and length of stay requirements.
Are the patients getting more involved in their care or do they just not care?
I think we need a health blitz in our school curricula so that kids and parents/caregivers all know how to care for an illness or accidents and how to eat healthfully, and the manufacturers of all the fat food would make and sell something much more nourishing so that diabetes and obesity would not cause so much ill health and lower the mortality rate. Change has got to start in the home, but in our case, many parents didn’t go to school so what they don’t know and what they need to know and do are two different things.
Behavior needs to change, too. For example, too many patients have no teeth and eat soft starchy foods which only puts on weight; kids get soft drinks in their baby bottles way early on. So we teach and teach and review and teach some more and a few people get fired up because they learn they have power — which is a big deal at our office — to empower each patient is our major goal. And when we see people actually making lifestyle changes it is incredibly rewarding.
Why did you decide to implement an EHR?
Because of the benefits of speed in communication, ability to quickly access past clinical info and dealing with the handwriting deciphering issue (fewer mistakes related to bad handwriting) the desire not to have to lug a pile of charts home to finish them; urging from forward-looking trusted colleagues; the availability of a grant; articles in medical journals that piqued my curiosity; and the ability to invite salespeople in to speak to the administrative team and then the staff, and pepper them with questions.
Are you more efficient because of an EHR or has there been little or no change?
Technically, I’d probably have to get someone to actually do a time study, but I feel more efficient, which removes some levels of stress for me.
When your career is over, what one thing will you want to carry on in your absence?
Patient-centered care given generously without regard to ability to pay meaning that every patient will get the best care.
I also want our patients to be welcomed with concern, care and compassion, and I want the caregivers to educate and empower patients so they can assume responsibility for their own healthcare, change their lifestyles, and learn how to pass on the education and empowerment to their families and friends.
And, I want caregivers to follow the M*A*S*H* model: