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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Jul 14 2013   10:40PM GMT

Steps to ensure devices do not affect patient satisfaction

Posted by: RedaChouffani
patient satisfaction, tablets

A recent report explored the affect technological devices have on the patient and caregiver relationship. The report, presented to the American Medical Association, titled “Exam Room Computing & Patient-Physician Interactions” was presented by Steven J. Stack, M.D. It concluded there is not a significant negative impact of using these devices during care.

The report states,These concerns have been explored in several studies of patient satisfaction… Over the past two decades, research has consistently indicated that patient satisfaction does not appear to be adversely affected by the introduction of computers into the examination room.

There are few reported cases of patients being distracted by ringing phones during a care visit. There are discussions around the difference between having a tablet at hand versus a PC on a cart or mounted to the wall. Overall, the study outlined that the attention given to patients by their provider, not the devices they use, makes the biggest difference in patient engagement and satisfaction.

IT executives typically focus on four critical areas to ensure that the patient and caregiver relationship is not negatively affected by technology. The following are some of the criteria that IT executives consider when evaluating technology’s role in care settings.

Connectivity disruptions and performance issues: Tablets, PCs and laptops are the go-to tools for many hospital caregivers to gain access to their patients’ health information. It’s critical that the system is accessible at all times, whether the device has wireless access or via a wired connection.

Clinical application responsiveness: Managing all the applications that are being used in the hospital environment can be a challenging task for the IT department. Hospital staff members can be frustrated when network network bottlenecks or application issues affect patient care.

Ease of use: One of the tag used during a recent EHR sales presentation was “Our system can help you track everything and anything, and everything is extremely customizable.” A system’s level of complexity or capacity to track and organize data doesn’t always make it the best choice. A system that is easy to use and has a logical flow of data can help support providers. Physicians have described this as a key functionality when evaluating an EHR product.

Patient friendly system: When patients see their caregiver using an electronic device during their visit, it’s likely that patients are curious about how the device is assisting in their treatment. Physicians have been able to use care summaries and other tools to educate patients on this topic. Physicians can also share their screen to show patients how they are using their devices during a patient visit.

Disable distractions: Tablets, PCs and mobile devices frequently receive alerts and notifications. These can be distractions to the caregiver if they are continuously pop up during the care episode. The IT department can avoid these distractions by muting all alerts.

The majority of medical staff today use electronic devices for work purposes. We must insure these devices are fully capable of fulfilling their goals without risking a negative impact to the physician-patient relationship.

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