Digital Focus: Improving Workflow and Patient Experience
Sprawling hospital campuses can be difficult and intimidating for patients to navigate. For some, finding the right office or unit can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Some medical centers cover several city blocks, causing first-time navigation difficulties and recurring patients. Medical campuses grow and change over time, and each new unit, department, or building can disrupt a patient’s known journey.
As healthcare becomes more and more competitive, the line between patient and client begins to blur. Healthcare institutions must anticipate patient needs and meet their expectations in a timely manner with practical and innovative solutions. The healthcare technology industry is growing rapidly and seeking to provide a quality experience for patients and their families. With the constant emergence of new technologies, facilities must be selective in implementing proven, user-friendly and high return on investment solutions that benefit patients, staff and operations.
One of these solutions is digital orientation. As any size of healthcare campus can be difficult for patients and visitors to navigate, digital orientation and interactive campus maps provide easy-to-use indoor and outdoor navigation that effectively directs users to their locations. destinations. These cost-effective GPS-style solutions meet an immediate need with a user-friendly and familiar approach that is easy to implement for installations.
Navigate as a pain point for patients, visitors and staff
It’s not uncommon for patients to get lost on their first visit to a new healthcare facility, with some facilities reporting nearly 30% of patients getting lost on their way to their first appointment. Even staff report difficulty navigating large campuses. These challenges can lead to additional stress for patients and visitors, late arrivals, missed appointments, and ultimately delayed patient care. In fact, a recent study found that patients who missed an appointment with their primary care providers were 70% more likely not to return within 18 months. Reports have shown that implementing a digital referral solution in facilities reduces patient anxiety related to navigation.
Healthcare facilities have estimated that they lose $ 200,000 per year due to scheduling conflicts directly caused by patient navigation problems. Combined nationwide, hospitals are losing $ 150 billion each year simply because of missed appointments and each no-show appointment costs the healthcare industry around $ 200. Late appointments can be just as expensive. Staff members waste valuable time monitoring overdue patients. Delays slow down the schedule and create costly inefficiencies, while impacting the satisfaction of on-time patients who wait. A patient rushing to an appointment will often prevent anyone in uniform from asking for instructions – usually a doctor or nurse – which can also take time to provide patient care and other duties, let alone ” increase the potential for risk of exposure through additional contact.
Unfortunately for patients and their providers, hospitals are prone to navigation difficulties. There are countless entrances, miles of similar hallways, room changes and additions. Navigating a complex campus increases stress for patients who are probably already experiencing some anxiety about their condition or the condition that brought them to the hospital in the first place.
Digital orientation as a user-friendly solution
An advanced digital orientation solution can create a route for a patient and send it via SMS directly to their cell phone. The itinerary will open in a web browser, eliminating the need to download a specific app, and guide the patient through their appointment process. These maps are overlaid on a private Google Maps-like interface, allowing users to have a sense of familiarity, while providing real-world contextual information about where they are and where they are going.
The instructions provide the best place to park, the most efficient route to follow, and record the user’s parking spot. At the end of their appointment, the digital orientation solution will return the user to their car or to their original starting point. Each route is highlighted and can provide step-by-step directions as well as points of interest along the way.
The best digital orientation solutions can also use QR codes inside and outside of hospitals. This hardware-less approach is both cost effective and easy to use for patients and visitors. For example, a friend or family member of a patient might arrive at the hospital, scan a QR code in the parking lot, and then select the relevant point of interest from the facility list. The solution then generates a route that takes them from their current location directly to the desired destination. As another option, patients can privately share their indoor location via text or email to give visitors the exact location of the room and the best route to get there.
Digital orientation solutions can be customized to show disabled routes and options to avoid certain areas, such as quarantine wings. They can also include contact information, hours of operation, web URLs, and other details that a patient may need regarding their destination. These digital tools give patients and visitors the ability to freely manage their own visits with confidence and speed.
Benefits of referral solutions for patients, staff and administrators
When patients can navigate successfully on their own, they feel more confident and less stressed about their impending appointment. This freedom allows them to focus on their care and healing.
When patients are not late for their appointments, staff can better stay on schedule and meet their patient’s needs and expectations in the most efficient manner. Digital guidance solutions also specifically benefit and streamline emergency services. When people in crisis arrive, they can easily see where to go and how to get there.
By using QR codes and web browsers, installation and launch is streamlined and cost effective. The solutions can easily convert CAD files or other floor plan files to the navigation system, thus minimizing much of the map development time. Digital orientation is a relatively fast and cost-effective way to instantly improve patient satisfaction, improve workflows, and support efficient planning.
Finding our way to a better healthcare campus experience
As healthcare facilities seek to implement new solutions, return on investment should always be a priority. A solution that does not require hardware deployment will have the fastest return on investment and offer the shortest implementation time. Ideally, the digital orientation solution won’t require indoor positioning, apps to download, or hardware like Bluetooth beacons. Additionally, this approach can be extended in the future, which means the digital solution can be implemented in the healthcare facility app or extended with EMR integrations, such as Epic.
Another key point to prioritize in a solution is that it is user-friendly. A solution that only requires the use of a smartphone, instead of a new app download, will be easier to use for patients and visitors. Even if facilities add functionality to the app later, maintaining the QR code / web browser system will help patients and visitors who have not pre-downloaded the app or may not know how. do, two of the biggest barriers to adoption of the app.
As hospitals continue to grow and patient needs continue to evolve, digital referral solutions help healthcare facilities alleviate a common stressor. The autonomy a patient experiences when traveling and the ability to focus only on their care, combined with the benefits of scheduling appointments on time, prove that digital orientation is a powerful tool – a tool that innovative healthcare establishments must take this into account.
Photo: Bulat Silvia, Getty Images