Source：William Pao, a&s International ｜ Date：2017/03/31
In the midst of intense competitions in the healthcare industry in various parts of the world, hospitals are seeking to boost the experience of customers – in this case patients – by providing quality care and services. In this way, the Internet of Things (IoT) can play a major role.
“Consumer experience – including choice, satisfaction, engagement and retention – is a vital beneficiary and important driver of hospital Internet of Health Things (IoHT) programs. Using IoHT can lead to benefits such as improved brand awareness and patient experience,” said Brian Kalis, managing director of digital health and innovation at Accenture.
The experience can begin even before arriving at the hospital. An outpatient can make an appointment via their smart devices or computer, and on the day of the appointment they can easily check the doctor’s status and leave before their number is called. Prior to seeing the doctor, they can check their blood pressure and weight, and this data will be transmitted to the system and can be accessed by the doctor during the appointment. If there is a co-payment, the patient can make the payment via their mobile app, thus not having to make an extra trip to the counter in the lobby.
Meanwhile, location-tracking technologies within the hospital can connect with the patient’s mobile device of the patient so they can find their way through the hospital with ease. “If you have a mobile phone and you have an application from the hospital … it can now through wireless or Bluetooth detect when you arrive to the facility. A popup notification comes up to the phone and says ‘thanks for visiting; we’ve noticed you have an appointment in orthopedic surgery today, can we check you in,’” said Jason Mortensen, Global Healthcare Solutions Portfolio Manager at Cisco. “Also, way finding allows me to easily find where orthopedic surgery is in a complex hospitals. That’s one big aspect of being able to engage with patients visitors on their mobile device.”
For patients who are hospitalized, they can benefit from smart technology as well. “Inside the patient’s room, we see more of a trend to infotainment systems delivering not only standard TV services or movies but also educational videos, integrated with nutrition systems so I can either see what is for lunch today or I can order what’s for lunch. I can also see what my schedule for the day is, what I need to do before I’m discharged, so on and so forth,” Mortensen said.
Moreover, in some hospitals patients are made to wear wearable devices that can monitor their vital signs and track their locations so that preventive care can be administered. “Patient service is improved with wearable devices as they are aware that they are being continuously monitored, giving them the peace of mind that if their health deteriorates, help will be available immediately. Wearable devices also help to speed up processes, as they can allow patients to be sent home sooner, which will improve the patient experience,” said Stephanie Lawrence, Research Analyst at ABI Research.
One way hospitals can improve patient satisfaction is to discharge patients early so they can recover at home. In this regard, remote monitoring technology has become more advanced and can play an important role. “Remote patient monitoring devices allow healthcare professionals to send patients home and continue to continuously monitor their condition in real-time, again ensuring that they receive alerts to any changes in the patient’s health,” Lawrence said.
“IoT can help increase patient satisfaction by allowing patients to get discharged home earlier. For patients who are eligible and has a home environment readied for early discharge, IoT can enable patients to recover at home with appropriate monitoring and equipment,” said Patrick Ng, VP of Business Development and Clinical Operations at MedicusTek. “This would do several things: reduce patient care costs as home care is less expensive than at a hospital, allow patients to recover in the familiarity and comfort of their home, and ensure continued follow-up of a patient after the patient leaves the hospital.”
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