Patient engagement has become a hot topic as many healthcare leaders see it as one strategy to help achieve the “Triple Aim” of improved health outcomes, better patient care and lower costs. While many healthcare provider organizations are deploying patient engagement strategies to connect with patients outside the four walls of the hospital, others are focused on improving the inpatient experience.
Senior executive leaders at the University of Iowa Health Care, the Iowa City-based health system that includes the 800-bed UI Hospitals and Clinics, saw an opportunity to leverage patient engagement technology solutions to supports its patient experience initiatives, with a specific focus on pediatric patients.
In July 2015, health system leaders worked with Oneview Healthcare, a healthcare technology company headquartered in Ireland and with offices in Chicago, to pilot the company’s interactive patient engagement and clinical workflow solution in a unit of the UI Children’s Hospital. At the time, health system leaders were planning and designing a new children’s hospital and wanted to test out the patient engagement technology with the idea of potentially deploying it in the new facility.
“We wanted to create that delightful experience for our patients and not just an entertainment system, but also something that really engages the patient, educates them about their care, gives them the ability to connect with their providers in a different way by leveraging technology,” Maia Hightower, M.D., chief medical information officer at UI Health Care, says.
Typically, from a patient experience perspective, during a hospital stay, the only entertainment and interactive technology that patients are provided are a television and a nurse call button. By deploying the Oneview platform in a pilot unit at UI Children’s Hospital, the pediatric patients in that unit were provided with their own personalized bedside touchscreen tablet that enables them to play video games and watch movies, as well as communicate directly with their care team and select and order meals. In addition, the platform enables communication with parents or caregivers outside the hospital via Skype-based texting and audio communication.
“Some patients stay quite a long time and we have parents who live quite far away. So, one of the other reasons why we choose Oneview was their ability to bring that parent into the child’s life here at the hospital. So, if the parents are at home there are able to talk to the kids at the hospital or be Skyped in during a clinical consultation,” Pamela Kunert, R.N., nursing informatics specialist at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, says.
Based on the results of the pilot project, health system leaders decided to roll out the platform across the newly constructed, 199-bed UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which opened this past February.
photo credit: Jeffrey Becker, USA Today
The platform integrates with UI Health Care’s current enterprise-wide electronic medical record (EMR) and creates a personalized experience for patients, while also encouraging active collaboration with their clinicians on education and goals, and direct communication with their care teams.
While the entertainment features, such as video games and movies and TV programming are popular features with children who are pediatric patients, the platform also enhances the engagement children and their families have with physicians and clinicians, Kunert says. “We have the platform connected to our real-time locating system so it recognizes when a doctor or a care team member enters the room and provides the provider’s name and photo on the screen. In a large academic medical center, with so many people coming in and out, it can be a bit daunting for families to know who people are. So, that feature is helpful and can help to break the ice.”
The bedside touchscreen platform also provides personalized menus for patients targeted to their specific diets. “If a child is allergic to strawberries, any item with strawberries will not show up when that child orders food via Oneview. And the families and care givers can also help the child pre-order a meal if they won’t be here for a particular meal,” Kunert says.
Feedback from patients’ families also indicates that use of the technology platform gave parents more peace of mind about their child’s hospital stay. “Parents have said it keeps their child entertained and keeps their mind off where they are and why they are here,” Kunert says.
Since the technology platform has been implemented, patient experience scores have risen dramatically, from the 40th percentile to the 89th-90th percentile, Hightower says. “From an attribution standpoint, how do we say which part is Oneview and which part is the total patient experience, as we’ve made other changes? But, we’re happy that our patients are happy.”
The technology platform also enhances the patient education process, Kunert says. “Prior to implementing this technology, we had a lot of paper handouts for education or we had to get DVD players for kids to watch videos. Now when a nurse assigns a video in our EMR, that video will flow over into Oneview and the parent or the child can watch that video and it sends a notification back through Epic that the patient has viewed the video,” she says.