Innovation ROI depends on staying patient-focused, tracking metrics

Healthcare organizations shouldn't just pursue new projects for their own sake, say digital health leaders from Thomas Jefferson University. Success comes from keeping track of the good they do.
By Benjamin Harris
11:08 AM

Many hospitals rush towards any opportunity to innovate that they can think of, looking for new ways to serve patients or to perform better financially.

In the quest to develop these innovative solutions, providers need to remember to track return on investment to measure the degree of efficiency their implementations have, said two digital health experts from Thomas Jefferson University during a recent HIMSS20 Digital presentation.

It is even more important to remember that the goal of the development should be to create a positive and meaningful experience for the end user.

"We work for healthcare," said Neil Gomes, chief digital officer at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, during the presentation, Delivering Real ROI on Technology at Scale. "We are in service of our patients and our students."

Developing a successful healthcare solution means taking the time to figure out how users engage with it, said Gomes. He said that it is important as well to ask from a development standpoint whether it brings value to the consumer. Their continued engagement hinges on a positive experience.

"Focus on making it easier to get to solutions," he explained. "Not just where you want people to come to, but places where people already are."

It is important to ask questions like, "What is the problem, what is the solution, and what are the outcomes you'd like to see?" said Gomes. "The outcomes give you the metrics by which you can measure [success] and by which you can determine ROI."

Viraj Patwardhan, VP of digital design and consumer experience at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, said one way to achieve success with new innovations is by understanding how and where the consumer will use it.

He gives the example of his system's appointment scheduler. Fully trackable on the backend, his team was able to see when people used it and were able to tailor the system to make it simpler and easier to use.

"There are so many nuances there when you go back and look at the data," he said. "Those [scheduling] forms are pretty long, they ask for a lot of information. We see that as friction."

Focusing on user experience when they are in a care environment can identify ways to improve the care process for both patient and provider. When someone is in the hospital for a procedure, even a small one, it's an unusual and disorienting situation for most people.

"When a patient is in the hospital with nobody familiar at all around, when they have questions … the nurse button gets pressed most of the time," said Patwardhan.

Recognizing that many times the patient is just looking for someone to interact with, Patwardhan said that the solution was to develop a voice-based system, since it's how most people communicate. The technology was there as well, from the standpoint of both development and user familiarity.

"Smart devices have become an almost integral part of life. Voice technology is pretty common now," he said.

The HIPAA-compliant system still needs further development, but as it is currently used it both improves the patient experience and alleviates the workload on nurses.

By providing a channel for patients to do everything from asking when their meal will come to inquiring about the weather outside, patients have a place to go for information and engagement. (Patwardhan said the favorite interaction is TV control.) Nurses and other providers are in turn able to spend more time with patients who need direct attention.

"This device will never replace a nurse, but it will answer all the questions a patient may have," he said.

 

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Benjamin Harris is a Maine-based freelance writer and former new media producer for HIMSS Media.
Twitter: @BenzoHarris.
Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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