Technology Can Drive Patient-Centered Care

Content courtesy of Stryker.

At the beginning of March 2020, Susan Murphy, BSN, MS, RN, had to think on the fly about how to restore the connection hospitalized patients had lost because of COVID-19.

Susan Murphy, RN

Murphy, the chief experience officer at UChicago Medicine, said visiting hours stopped abruptly but patients’ needs for human connection remained.

“That was a pretty traumatic day,” Murphy said. “We had to go to every room and tell visitors they couldn’t come back and weren’t sure when they could (return).”

Connection Lost and Found

Emotional support and alleviation of fear and anxiety along with involvement of family and friends are two principles of patient-centered care, according to research from Harvard Medical School.

Murphy and her team came up with how they could use existing technology to address those principles that would allow patients to maintain contact with staff inside the hospital and loved ones outside the walls.

They used the hospital’s existing Vocera Care Experience technology, which is a virtual voice-capturing tool that staff use when rounding to document and track patients’ experiences. But instead of going into patients’ rooms during the pandemic, hospital staff used the technology to call patients in their rooms every day to check in and see how they were doing.

These weren’t clinical calls, according to Murphy. Rather, staff asked patients how they were feeling emotionally during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Murphy calls it human-centered care.

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Staff also provided iPads to patients in their rooms, so the patients could use them to communicate with loved ones via Zoom, FaceTime, or another platform.

“What we realized was they wanted to make sure their voices were being heard by the organization and also by those they love,” Murphy said.

When Patient-Centered Care Meets Technology

Patient-centered care isn’t about technology itself. It’s about how nurses and others use the technology to achieve the kindness and compassion patients want in a healthcare setting, according to Murphy.

Harvard Medical School, on behalf of the Picker Institute and The Commonwealth Fund, compiled data from interviews with patients, family members, physicians, non-physician hospital staff, and literature reviews to define eight principles that characterize what patients want most in their healthcare experience.

As mentioned previously, emotional support and alleviation of fear and anxiety, along with involvement of family and friends, are two of those principles.

According to Harvard Medical School, the other six principles include:

  • Respect for the patients’ values and preferences
  • Coordination and integration of care
  • Information, communication, and education
  • Physical comfort
  • Timely access to care
  • Continuity and secure transition between healthcare settings

Tools That Help Nurses, Patients

Technology helps in all types of care settings to improve patient-centered care.

Video chat, for example, allows patients to connect face-to-face with providers through their mobile devices, according to Becky Waldman, RN, vice president of clinical service and quality assurance with WINFertility. She oversees the national fertility benefit management company’s nurses specializing in fertility care.

And nowadays, healthcare companies such as WINFertility can use outcome data analysis to better educate patients.

“Twenty-one years of patient data has …read more

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