Jason Joseph, CIO of Spectrum Health, outlines five ways technology can support a better patient experience in the future.
1. Virtual assistance. “Amazon is working to make Alexa HIPAA compliant, which will open doors to having voice-controlled patient rooms,” said Mr. Joseph. Imagine being in your hospital bed with a voice assistant on the side table. Do you need to make a change in the environment but there isn’t a nurse in sight? Alexa can help. “Alexa, close the blinds” or “Alexa, call my nurse,” can make sure patients have everything they need in real time.
2. Virtual reality. “Virtual reality can help familiarize patients with facilities before they arrive, like offering pregnant women a chance to tour the labor and delivery rooms before giving birth,” he said. This technology can also be used to monitor patients from home, allowing hospitals to send patients home a day or two early while still continuing to monitor their vitals in real time.
3. Virtual visits. The commercialization of more at-home devices broadens the possibilities for virtual visits. “As these devices relay data to remote providers in real time, office visits for low- to mid-acuity conditions can now be replaced with virtual visits,” Mr. Joseph said. “Applications are driving healthcare organizations to critically look at all their brick-and-mortar utilization and ask the question, ‘Can I see this patient virtually?'” Spectrum has aggressive goals for expanding virtual care in the next three years.
4. Artificial intelligence. “With improved algorithms, AI and new patient engagement approaches, suites of technology can take some of the burden off caregivers to handle the collection and interpretation of data in near real-time,” said Mr. Joseph. “This will enable new models of care all together.”
5. Basic applications. While big goals are important to driving the patient experience forward, don’t forget about the basics, such as online scheduling, customer service, paperless forms, electronic check-ins, portable records and giving patients the ability to change providers online.
“Many of these things have headwinds that are more about change management and less about technology,” said Mr. Joseph. “In other cases, complex regulations and concerns about privacy and security in the cloud make changes more difficult than in other industries. As we often say, ‘If it were easy, it would have been done already.'”
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