Using advanced printing and computing technologies to drive patient engagement

As healthcare organizations look for new and innovative ways to drive patient engagement, they shouldn’t overlook advanced printing and computing technologies.
06:20 PM

Patient engagement is becoming a priority in the healthcare realm.

As noted in the PwC’s Top health industry issues of 2018 report, nearly half of provider organization executives surveyed by the professional services firm said that revitalizing the patient experience was one of their organization’s leading priorities in the short term.1

For good reason: As patients are afforded more choice in where they can go for care, healthcare organizations are rethinking the way they interact with patients both inside and outside hospital walls.

“Certainly, patient engagement is about finding ways to encourage patients to play a more active role in their own care, helping to improve outcomes and reduce things such as unnecessary hospital readmissions,” said Frank Cutitta, HIMSS market analyst. “But there is also an economic aspect. Healthcare organizations are looking for ways to attract and retain patients because patients now have more of a choice about where they go to seek care.”

Today, the market boasts a variety of tools and technologies that can help patients better engage with their own care as well as build their loyalty to the healthcare organization itself. But Cutitta said building a technology ecosystem across the enterprise that utilizes advanced printing and computing technologies can allow healthcare organizations to drive engagement that not only helps to keep patients healthier but also returns them to your organization for their family’s healthcare needs.

Identifying pain points

According to a recent NEJM Catalyst survey, healthcare significantly lags behind other industries regarding customer engagement, and it would benefit from improved customer services, the customization to individual needs and preferences, and new models of interaction.2 Cutitta said most hospitals and provider organizations realize this but simply aren’t sure where, when, or how to get started.

“Healthcare isn’t just happening in the examining room anymore,” he said. “It’s clear that to make a difference, you need to foster engagement wherever the patient is, whether it’s in the hospital or at the patient’s home. You need to think beyond the four walls of the hospital, and that can be a challenge.”

But, he added, patient engagement doesn’t mean your organization should simply invest in an expensive patient-portal platform and consider it done. Rather, he said, finding places where you can make small changes to big effect often proves more valuable.

“You can improve the patient experience and patient engagement by first identifying where your patients and clinicians are having the most difficulty,” he said. “When you can figure out where patients may be most frustrated or uncomfortable, you can use advanced technologies to address those issues, whether it involves employing technologies that can help them find their way around the hospital or making the surgical consent-form process a little less cumbersome. Even a reduction in the need for clinicians to call for device maintenance has a positive effect on redirecting that time to face-to-face patient engagement.”

Promoting effective engagement

Such small changes — relying on devices and technologies that were designed for healthcare — can improve everything from scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey to surgical no-show rates, which, for many organizations, remain quite high.

“It starts with the check-in process. Can you use a kiosk or a mobile device to improve the patient experience?” asked Cutitta. “Can you give inpatients the technology to make requests or have some degree of control of their environment to make them feel more comfortable? Can you use print to create large-format graphics that can alter the environment of a treatment room to make it less bland and more comfortable?

“Can you use a virtual reality system to help educate patients about their conditions and proper care management before they go home? Can you provide your patients with easy-to-follow, in-color post-visit printed directions to help them feel empowered to handle their aftercare and help prevent re-admissions? There are a lot of different opportunities to use technologies to make patients feel engaged, comfortable, and confident in the care they receive,” said Cutitta.

Patient engagement really boils down to being able to offer patients the right education and experiences wherever they are. The right technology ecosystem, which includes multifunction printers as well as advanced computing technologies, can help healthcare organizations to not only transform the care experience but also create efficiencies so providers can spend more time on face-to-face interactions with patients. When healthcare organizations invest in technologies that can facilitate that education and experience, whether patients are within the four walls of a hospital or living and working in their communities, it’s a win for the patient — as well as for your organization’s HCAHPS scores.

“Finding those small ways to make things easier and less stressful for patients is critical to success,” said Cutitta. “What’s most important is this: Experience provides strategies that can help improve a clinician’s digital workflow, decrease wait times for data output, and increase face time — all of which can have a positive domino effect on patient engagement and satisfaction across the continuum of care.”

References

  1. PriceWaterhouseCoopers (2017). Top health industry issues of 2018. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/health-industries/top-health-industry-issues/patient-experience.html.
  2. Volpp KG and Mohta NS. Patient Engagement Survey: Health Care Has a Lot to Learn from Consumer-Friendly Industries. NEJM Catalyst. January 10, 2019. https://catalyst.nejm.org/consumerization-health-care-consumer-friendly-industries/.