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Improve patient experience through healthcare digitalization

This is a summary of a private healthcare webinar, which Purple ran alongside University Hospital’s Managing Director of Innovation and Design in May.

You can find the full recording of the webinar here or take a look at the transcript here.

Dean quickly kicked off the webinar by introducing Shaun and Kip before introducing the topic of the webinar ‘Improving the patient experience with healthcare digitalization’.

“There is an ever-growing culture within the healthcare industry, that believes providing an excellent patient experience has a direct impact on financial results, as well as on clinical outcomes.”

Continuing to list the evidence that links the patient experience and its effects, Dean mentioned a quote from a member at University Hospitals:

“If people are lost and anxious before and upon arriving for their appointments, this impacts their experience and quality, which in turn affects the value equation. No, needless suffering, from confusion about where to go”

Is patient experience new?

Kip led this section by mentioning University Hospital’s long dedication to the patient experience and how seeing others begin to gain the same focus is sheds that the healthcare industry is positively shifting.

Kip then moved on to talk about how venues can benefit financially from the shift in focus and new insight on the effects of the patient experience, additionally, he mentioned how research-driven company Forrester, has identified three dimensions of great customer care that are very translatable to healthcare.

“The three-dimensional are usefulness, usability and the desirability of solutions…”

Translated the three dimensions mean:

  • Usefulness – What problem is being addressed?
  • Usability – How easy is it for end-users to grasp?
  • Desirability of Solutions – Is the issue being addressed one that will benefit the patient experience?

“…and if we’re going to talk about consumerism being such a new thing, maybe an extra layer of that lens applied to patient experience.”

The Googles of the world

Kip went on to discuss how the rise of large companies like Google which redefined marketing and created a range of digital methods to better retail experiences. Rather than it being once a tool to influence, consumers and patients have come to expect the best treatment and ways of making their experience as easy as possible.

Building on the topic Kip was talking about, Shaun mentioned how the elements that are now being looked at in healthcare have been present in multiple verticals for some time, for example, segmentation has been present in Retail for a long time to better improve the experience for customers based on a number of factors.

Kip responded by reinforcing Shaun’s point and how all of the elements that have been used for other verticals for over a decade are still just as important today, however, the behaviors of different groups have changed in this time and the attitude towards technology has shifted equally.

“So, for example, grandma might use her iPad in the same way as her grandson and from the standpoint of traditional marketing segmentation those are two different groups of people, but from the standpoint of personas, they actually might be the same target audience.”

Kip continued to discuss how the shift in group behaviors is also affecting the patient experience, not only towards technology but also healthcare itself. The attitude shift requires a more strategic focus such as targeting messages with the right message to the right people should ease the pain points felt by healthcare venues such as missed appointments.

Continuing to build on Kip’s point Shaun wanted to reflect on the group behaviors surrounding technology.

“Taking into account an aging population, the patient experience has to include technology that is seamless, frictionless, and easy to use.”

Should patients be called patients?

A patient implies someone who is, or who might already recognize themselves to be a patient and in need of healthcare.

The group discussed the stages in which the public receives medical aid have and are changing, such as:

Preventative care – tracking elements to try and catch or prevent illnesses before they’re incurred)

Population health – (the aim to improve the health of an entire population). 

Kip pointed out the popularity the conversation currently has by stating – “…from an academic, as well as healthcare side, I think there is a recognition that the term patient might not now fully capture the intended audience.”

Kip then mentioned how a range of terms could become more appropriate as an alternative to ‘patient’ within healthcare, meaning venues will be able to thoroughly tailor messages to the intended audiences.

“I think it could be productive because it forces us, in some ways, not just to pick and choose terms, but to rethink our own mental model of how we think about people. And some of them might have recognizable needs, and in other cases, there might be latent needs.”

New segmentation to improve the experience for specific groups of people

In this section, the group discussed if there was enough being done to benefit and personalize the customer/patient journeys with traditional forms of marketing.

Traditional segmentation – age group, demographics, ethnicity

Behavior segmentation – the actual behaviors of people around technology

“So, for example, grandma might use her iPad in the same way as her grandson and from the standpoint of traditional marketing segmentation those are two different groups of people, but from the standpoint of personas, they actually might be the same target audience in terms of the types of needs they have and the technologies they really could benefit from.”

Shaun mentioned that an aging population should also be factored into the change behaviors and requirements of groups to have the most seamless experience. Patient journeys require “technology that is seamless, frictionless, and easy to use”.

A bad patient experience

Eager to find out how a patient experience can be ruined, Dean asked Kip to share his most memorable moment.

“Yeah, this is a real one, and is what triggered our interest in finding a Wayfinding solution many, many years ago.”

Kip went on to discuss a situation in which a mother and daughter became trapped within a fenced area without a way back inside. This situation was caused by map print-outs which didn’t distinguish well enough the layouts of multiple floors, if the pair had gone up one more level they would have been fine. 

Dean asked Kip whether these kinds of experiences affect the individuals and if so, how?

Kip made it clear that before any issues have occurred, a trip to a hospital or large healthcare campus like University Hospital’s is daunting; “people walk in and as soon as they walk in there is the look of confusion, the look of frustration and anxiety” so any added stress will definitely leave a negative impression on the individual.

Thinking about a visit to any healthcare facility, the main stress for all visitors is the appointment itself, therefore improving the moments before and after the “sacred encounter” should carry little to no stress meaning there is a lot of opportunities to benefit the experience for all.

New & existing staff benefits

Following on from the last section Dean talked about the lasting effect negative experiences can have on visitors and patients, but also the staff.

Kip had a great example of how venues can be confusing for everyone, “prior to the implementation of our Wayfinding solution, even with that desire to take someone from point A to point B, the staff themselves would have to ask others. However, from guiding patients and visitors around, caregivers have directly benefited from knowing where a certain conference or utility room is”.

Kip then went on to mention that the success of Wayfinding had led to the Purple app becoming a part of their staff onboarding program, and from day one of the orientation staff are able to get where they need to be with ease.

Solution evolution

Dean again led this section asking Kip a series of questions about Purple’s Wayfinding solution, and to find out how Purple Wayfinding has changed since the initial implementation.

Kip responded with “incredible progress”. As Wayfinding has developed and become more inclusive to help the user, they now allow visitors and patients to complete their journey from start to finish. This journey could include a venue off campus and back gain while transitioning between floors and buildings as the user does. 

Dean: Why did you decide to move to that blue dot solution?

Kip responded by mentioning that we expect modern technology solutions to be the best and little input should be required from the user, “if you’re going to show me navigation, it’s not a static map and there should be a blue-dot somewhere showing me where I am”. Kip continued to explain why UH made the change but also mentioned that the Blue-dot solution provided by Purple was one of the reasons the company was chosen.

Dean: Did you consider any other solutions?

Kip responded by mentioning how infrastructure played a large role in the decision. Choosing other solutions that required new equipment wasn’t an option, “it’s a unique technology that you guys offer that is minimal in its use of beacons and it truly harnesses the technology that most of us have in our cell phone”.

The end-user rollout

In this section, the group discussed how University Hospitals chose to roll out the solution to end-users via the ‘UH Now’ application. In order to make things easy, Purple was able to integrate directly with an API, which was met with a lot of excitement, especially with it being a “home-grown app” and having everything in one place was critical to the success of the solution.

To emphasize the key pain points that Purple Wayfinding addresses, Shaun listed the top 5 discussions he has with individuals within the healthcare industry.

  1. Patient Anxiety – One that has been mentioned a lot but continues to be just as important. Addressing the fear factor of getting lost in large venues instantly benefits patient and visitor expectations.
  2. Missed Appointments – More than $150bn USD is lost due to patients missing their appointments (a large amount caused by point No.1)
  3. Guided Navigation – Static maps and kiosks alone will no longer do enough to help patients and visitors putting a large amount of stress on members of staff.
  4. Elective Procedures – Driving revenue is essential to all healthcare venues and getting visitors to the right place is crucial to benefit this factor.
  5. Customer/Patient Satisfaction – Keeping a strong brand reputation, and avoiding any forms of fines that could occur. Both of these are especially relevant to the U.S. HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems).

Kip built on points 2 & 5 which Shaun shared.

Aswell as no-show appointments, the impact on revenue for late appointments is also critical as operations become slow. When a patient arrives and doesn’t have the right tools to find their way around, the chance of them getting being late increases. HCAHPS is a requirement in the U.S. and has a major impact on revenue meaning it’s very important to provide the best experience possible.

Kip continued to mention the changes coming which will see immediate benefits of Wayfinding in outpatient medical centers on the campus, especially with the foot traffic seen within these venues.

Wayfinding data benefits to the patient experience

In this section, Kip spoke about the benefits that University Hospitals have seen to date with their Wayfinding data.

Kip explained that over time the data revealed insights to their own hypothesis, one example was around the most popular entrance points and where to add additional assets and information to better the experience. The heatmap data (representing where users opened the app) was able to provide clarity on each location and reveal new opportunities to better position welcoming stations.

Additionally, better placement to greet patients and visitors could correlate to a decrease in missed appointments. Kip also mentioned that the quantitative and qualitative data collected during and after the pandemic era will provide great insight.

What’s next for healthcare digitalization?

In this final section, Kip ran through the additional benefits of Wayfinding and what the possibilities for its use could be next.

After achieving their Wayfinding implementation goal, University Hospital is going to continue aiming for a completely seamless patient experience. The best way to achieve this being through tying solutions together, and fitting fragmented technologies together

With the impact of Covid putting immense amounts of pressure on healthcare venues, a new way to organize appointments had to be made, from this came virtual waiting rooms which alerted patients when they should enter the hospital and make their way to their appointment. If this solution could be integrated with location services, the anxiety of having to navigate without getting lost is removed meaning patients are more likely to get to the appointment on time and have stress removed before and after the “sacred encounter”.

One of Kip’s final comments about Wayfinding during the webinar:

“This is one technology that I think we need to really harness even more so than we have to date, by looking for ways that it can connect with other technologies that we use. To truly make the patient experience seamless.”

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