Improving the delivery of care begins at the patients’ home. Mobile device applications streamline the appointment setting process, and provide electronic medical record information and wellness check-ins away from the care facility. From automated travel scheduling, ride sharing, autonomous vehicles, biometric readings on smartphone devices, automated check-in, scheduling, and wayfinding, the opportunities of the possible are endless to enhance care delivery and the patient experience.

Improving the Patients’ Journey to Recovery

The key to enhancing the patient experience and by extension improving treatment outcomes, is to provide care -delivery that is simple to understand, intuitive to use, and promotes the health and wellness of individuals and their supporting families throughout the process.

Even today modern delivery of care begins at home. Healthcare providers offer smartphone applications allowing patients to communicate with caregivers and schedule appointments. In the background however, artificial intelligence (AI) would consider the wait times of all local facilities, time of day and traffic, as well as severity of the treatment requirements and direct the patient to a medical facility most suited to their individual needs.

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Facilitating Appointment Scheduling for Patients

Easing the challenges of getting to an appointment on time and in the right location not only reduces stress on the patient at a time of vulnerability, but also benefits the healthcare facility and caregivers in terms of operational efficiency.

 Application-driven appointment scheduling systems can be integrated with a host of facility and transit options. For example the facility parking system can reserve spaces suitable to the patient’s needs, instant Uber bookings can provide transportation to those unable to drive themselves, or a facility could eventually send for an automated vehicle for patients who are less mobile. The ease of transport from home to hospital presents many opportunities for enhancing the wellbeing of the patient and reducing stress.

The mobile scheduling application could provide caregiver details, pre-treatment requirements, or information about the procedure about to be delivered. It would inform the facility when the patient is going to arrive so that caregiver schedules and treatment spaces can be aligned to accommodate time of arrival.

Easier Navigation Around Complex Buildings

Hospitals are often big and complex buildings, but an intelligent hospital would know when a patient arrives, automate the check-in process and minimize wait times and administrative procedures. The automated check-in procedure would provide the patient with an indoor navigation tool on their smart device with turn by turn navigation to the consulting room while connecting them to the access control system providing the appropriate security credentials.

 Indoor location systems would direct patients to gift shops, restrooms, food and beverage outlets, play areas, parks and other amenities. The system could even provide online ordering of meals from the cafeteria.

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Empowering Patients to Control their Environment

The experience of the acute care facility is crucial to patient recovery. These critical spaces could be improved by increasing comfort and giving patients increased control over their environment and thereby a sense of independence and empowerment.

Controls include dimmable and task specific lighting, room temperature, entertainment, dining options, treatment schedules and reducing noise disturbance. Patients would be able to adjust lighting and room temperature, select entertainment or dining options, reduce noise disturbance with options such as sound masking or see their treatment schedules.

 For patients who have longer treatment requirements it is important to maintain connections with their communities, houses of worship or classrooms and normalize the inpatients’ experience. Application-based patient entertainment and dedicated patient Wi-Fi allow in-room and distance education, internet access, live streaming or video conferencing. Connection services to the outside world can prevent a sense of isolation and disconnection, enhancing the healing environment.

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Technology Systems that Support the Caregiver

Hospitals are full of technology systems sharing data, although they are not always integrated to directly support the patient needs. Integration with asset location, scheduling systems and entertainment systems for example can announce caregivers and other staff as they enter the patient space or can be used to prescribe interactive learning for patients about their illness and treatment requirements. Simply informing the patient who is providing, and what their role in the treatment process is, allows the patient to feel more in control of what is going on in their healing process.

 Predictive information modelling can allow for alerting caregivers to the patient needs before a request is made. As when pain medication is due to wear off, a caregiver can be notified to check-in beforehand and provide care as required. Thus, minimizing the discomfort between medication cycles and promoting a proactive approach to delivering care. This anticipation and resolution of patients’ needs can result in lower alert and call volume minimizing alarm fatigue, while at the same time allowing the caregiver to provide the care required rather than respond to the immediate needs of any given moment.

The positive effect of the physical environment on patients’ wellbeing and healing process is such that healthcare providers are investing in integrated systems that enhance patient moral, comfort, and control . Research into WELL buildings, LEED standards, and the healing environment drive innovation to solve challenges that once were the status quo, while looking to anticipate tomorrow’s challenges. While innovation can sometimes be a disruptive and uncomfortable force, in the end the spaces we design and build today are themselves direct contributors to the quality of care we will all rely upon someday.

While innovation can sometimes be a disruptive, uncomfortable force, in the end the spaces we design and build today are themselves a direct contributor to the quality of care we will all rely upon someday.

 

Article written by Michael Witecki, senior engineer for WSP’s Innovation Center, Boulder, USA



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