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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Aug 28 2011   8:58AM GMT

The features of tomorrow’s health care kiosk

Posted by: RedaChouffani
EHR, kiosk, Medical records, mobile health, PHRs and patient engagement, Revenue cycle

For the majority of us, seeing a kiosk in an airport, in a cell phone store, or even in a retail shop has become the norm. But we continue to lack the same high adoption rate in the health care arena. Why is this the case?

Some may contribute this to problems with ease-of-use and cost, while others point to the age range of users. Unfortunately, some of the current kiosks available tend to focus on what the vendor and developer group wants, instead of what the patient would like to see. The question we need to ask here is, how can we maximize the use and benefit of a kiosk, improve customer service and increase the adoption rate?

Below are some features that the “kiosk of tomorrow” would need to have, in my opinion, in order to attract patients and demonstrate value:

Help you find your way:

With every hospital I visit, I still manage to get lost and have to call the person I am meeting with to get some clear directions to get to where I need to be. I envision that tomorrow’s kiosks will begin to implement a “way finding” functionality which would allow me to tap on the screen, click on an icon that says “Help me find my way”, ask me if I am a patient and if I am an existing patient. The system would ask me to tap my phone on the screen, and with the magic of NFC, it recognizes me and tells me where my appointment is, while automatically notifying the front desk of my arrival. The kiosks can even prints a map or display an animation telling me how to get to where I need to be. If I am not a patient, it can simply allow me to select from an employee directory and show me the way.

What do I owe you?

Having dealt with hospital bills myself in the last 3 months, I cannot tell you how frustrating it was to get a list of itemized statements for what I owed. To me it is a very inefficient process, as you have staff answering phone calls, printing statements, and mailing them to patients. During one of my hospital visits, I could have easily logged onto the kiosk and viewed on the screen the detailed statement, and even paid for the balance! Of course some of this can be done directly through the web portal, but when you are in the waiting room, sometimes having kiosk right in front of you that can provide you with detailed information on your account and can help collect both current and outstanding payments.

Smart integration:

For outpatient surgery centers or even the ICU, having a kiosk that has some sort of connectivity to the medical records or patient tracking system can assist family members who are anxious to check on the status of their loved ones during all the stages of the surgery. This will significantly cut down on the calls to the nurses to check how the patient is doing and at what stage they are in.

Other integrations can also be done with the ER system. In this example, the kiosk can provide the estimated wait time in the ER, with some of this technology already being in place at the more connected hospitals.

Added services:

There are additional valuable services that kiosks can provide to patients. For example, patients requesting a copy of their medical records can be given access to their data directly from the kiosk. They can request and pay to get a digital copy of their medical records, downloaded to a USB flash drive or uploaded to Microsoft HealthVault or any supported PHR provider. This would reduce the volume of calls associated with ROI (request of information) and help provide more self-service products to patients.

Kiosks come in different shapes and forms. Some are PCs stored in attractive cabinets and others are in the form of tablet PCs. In more recent years, we are starting to see some of them running on Android based tablets and iPads. Today’s kiosks provide useful functionality and features such as self check-in, self-payment, and other basic features. But many vendors have recognized the need for more than just basic functionality and are actively developing more advanced features to increase adoption of these devices.

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