Technology, Health Literacy and the Patient Experience
Providing a high-quality patient experience is likely central to your mission and a benchmark that you are continually trying to improve upon. Nowadays, a positive patient experience goes far beyond just word-of-mouth reviews from patients. Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores are increasingly tying patient satisfaction—in addition to clinical outcomes—to financial returns.
As you assess how to improve the multi-faceted patient experience, it’s important to also consider the products or services provided by outside companies or firms that “touch” patients or other key populations and consider how health literacy can enhance the patient experience.
More than Just TVs and Mobile Devices—Interactive Patient Experience Systems
For example, think of the numerous screens and portals you see everywhere in healthcare facilities. In addition to the entertainment amenities, Interactive Patient Systems (IPS) can push general health information to patients about their stay and also provide education about their care and treatment.
Studies show that these technology solutions have real promise for improving patient satisfaction and improving HCAHPS scores. However, like nearly all technology-based solutions, it takes a human touch to make them really valuable. These interactive portals give you the opportunity to provide customized, culturally and linguistically appropriate, educational information to patients or other consumers.
Enhancing Technology with Health Literacy
Don’t just think of these systems as passive messaging; think about how the technology can truly enhance the patient experience. Start by ensuring that you have the ability to choose and/or customize the content of the IPS so that you are able to provide the resources that will best meet the needs of the populations you serve.
When information and education is provided via the portal, you still want to remember the tenets of effective health literacy:
Provide information that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.
Make the visuals, text and audio clear, actionable and understandable.
Ensure that patients have a way to process the information by respectfully asking follow up questions in person.
Health Literacy Partners has experience reviewing, customizing and enhancing content provided from third parties. Or, we can help your team create their own content to best meet your goals. The resources available on the IPS can include videos specific to the patient’s condition and treatment plan, surveys to measure patient understanding, or more traditional screen-based information. We work with IPS providers to ensure that the resources available to patients are valuable, accessible and meaningful.
One of the benefits of technology is the ability to quickly update information and promptly share it with staff or patients. Not only can your IPS provide alerts in emergency situations, it can be updated with new resources when new medical data or procedures are published, regulations shift or patient populations change. Don’t think of the content on your IPS as “done” once it goes live. This is just the beginning! There are many opportunities to enhance and utilize the IPS to continue to engage patients and provide them with individualized health information and services.
According to survey results, technology can play a significant role in improving patient satisfaction. When supported with a thoughtful health literacy strategy, patients are better informed throughout their hospital stay and better prepared to manage their care after discharge.