Healthcare News & Insights

2 ways hospitals are using technology to boost patient satisfaction

Hospitals across the country are using technology to improve patient satisfaction and provide them with faster service in many areas – both directly and indirectly related to their care. Because patient satisfaction has more of an impact on hospitals’ bottom lines, taking advantage of these innovations can be crucial to success. 

481505435Here’s a rundown of two technology-centered strategies facilities are using to enhance the patient experience.

1. Improved food service

One aspect of a hospital stay that many people dislike is the food. Not only are patients often dissatisfied with its look and taste, they can also be upset about a lack of timely delivery.

According to an article in Modern Healthcare, Shore Medical Center had this problem with its food service. Patients at the New Jersey hospital would order food using printed menus, and it was scheduled to be delivered during the same time each day.

This system wasn’t the most effective approach. Due to dietary restrictions, patients wouldn’t always get the food they ordered. And many wouldn’t eat the meal delivered in its place, leading to food waste.

Another circumstance that increased food waste: Patients wouldn’t always be in their rooms when food arrived. By the time they got back, their hot food would be cold. So it was often thrown away.

To avoid these problems, Shore Medical Center overhauled its food service program. Last summer, the hospital’s food service department started working with a vendor, Unidine, and began coordinating food delivery with tablets that linked to the facility’s electronic health records (EHR) system.

The tablets contained information about each patient’s dietary restrictions and allergies pulled directly from the EHR. Food service representatives would look at patients’ meal orders with the tablets and reach out to them directly to confirm their choices and discuss any dietary limitations.

Discussing meal options with patients helped them feel more in control of what they ate while in the hospital. And the change had excellent results. Shore Medical found that using the program has saved over $25,000 in food costs so far. In addition, according to the hospital, it’s contributed to a big boost in patient satisfaction scores – they’re 10% higher than they were before the program was implemented.

2. High-tech patient rooms

Hospital rooms aren’t always the most comfortable places. Doctors and nurses often get complaints from patients about noise, temperature and other aspects of the accommodations. And because they’ve got full caseloads of patients, they can’t always address these concerns immediately.

Now, Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals will give patients a different, more interactive alternative to solve these problems. According to a news release, the health system’s three facilities are set to launch “cognitive hospital rooms.”

The rooms will be powered by Internet of Things (IoT) technology through IBM Watson. They’ll contain speakers designed to give patients the ability to control some of their surroundings, as well as receive general information about their treatment and the hospital.

Patients can give the speakers voice-activated commands to complete a variety of actions, including changing the temperature in their rooms, closing or opening window blinds, setting reminders to take medications or walk around the room, and getting information about their doctors.

Ultimately, the health system wants to give patients the power to keep themselves comfortable without having to use call buttons for nurses or doctors. That means patients can relax a bit more, which is key to their recovery. And hopefully, the changes will improve patient satisfaction scores.

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