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The Hospital Room of the Future Is Here Now

Acute Care March 1, 2021

I came across a news story recently that gave me pause. A patient in Texas was sharing her recent inpatient experience, and frankly, it was one that made me understand why so many people hesitate – even fear –  being admitted.

Her description of her hospital stay could be summed up in these four words: isolation, loneliness, boredom, and anxiety. What she described was a feeling that sadly many other hospital patients experience—being cut off from the world with zero control over their environment or involvement in their own healthcare.

Thankfully, she was discharged due to the great medical care at this facility. But couldn’t that quality care have been delivered in a more patient-centered way—a way that prioritized the patient’s experience? I believe the answer is yes. And the solution isn’t something we have to wait years for; the hospital smart room™ is already here, and it’s changing the way patients perceive, interact, and embrace care during their hospital experience

The Three C’s—Pillars of Success 

How do you pioneer “hospital-ity”?

To deliver a personalized and engaging patient experience, forward-thinking hospital providers must embrace a modernization strategy that integrates technologies that patients use in their daily lives: streaming 24/7 entertainment, on-demand home comfort controls, digital meal ordering, and delivery, for example. At Allen, we’ve found success by designing our interactive patient system around the three C’s:

  1. Communication
  2. Control
  3. Convenience, and Comfort

A hospital that lays these foundations will have happier, healthier, and more satisfied patients. When that happens, the results are higher HCAHPS scores and improved patient outcomes.

Communication 

Patients commonly complain about lacking communication in their hospital stays from beginning to end. In fact, lack of communication is the single most common patient complaint about their hospital stay. While they may be bombarded with information at admission, the flow of information typically falls off during their stay.

So, how can you flip the script? How can you keep the lines of communication open at all times?

For starters, you can provide patients with a digital portal that contains everything about their stay, including their care plan, test results, and medical team. Make that information easy for patients to understand and accessible around the clock. Make it easy for nurses to have visibility into patients’ engagement with their health information and patient education – integrating an interactive patient platform with your EMR, in other words. Make it easy for the patient, family, and care team to be fully educated and prepared for hospital discharge and post-discharge care.

To that end, you can better facilitate digital communication by integrating smart room features:

  • Smart TVs equipped with interactive capabilities can deliver patient education that’s tailored to the patient’s specific needs and integrated into the electronic health record. This provides 24/7 in-bed access to interactive and engaging educational content.
  • Digital whiteboards, integrated into a patient’s TV, provide instant and transparent access to their critical health data. A real-time daily care plan condenses essential information about their daily care goals, hospital stay, care team, dietary restrictions, and what to expect in terms of a daily schedule.
  • Digital signage opens up lines of communication the moment a patient or visitor enters your facility. Utilized properly, digital signage makes it possible to keep both staff and visitors better informed. It’s a multipurpose technology that you can leverage to display:
    • Hospital news and alerts
    • Promotional content, such as supporting your hospital’s fundraising
    • Educational and safety tips
    • Relaxation content
    • TV programming

Smart-room technologies foster an in-depth dialogue between patients and their care team at every touchpoint of the patient journey. Keeping them informed and connected to their care team provides peace of mind and results in better health outcomes.

Control 

Is there any time you feel less in control than when you’re experiencing an adverse health event?

During a hospital stay, patients already have little say in their treatment. They’re told by healthcare professionals what to do and when to do it. Or, more likely, what is being done to them. This uneasy feeling is often magnified by a hospital’s chaotic and foreign atmosphere. As a result, the longer the duration of their stay, the more impotent they might start to feel. Knowing this, hospitals need to encourage patients to take control of their life, starting with their immediate environment.

In which case, you can create a more positive in-room experience by placing control directly into your patients’ hands and affording them the same choices that they might have at home. Instead of making decisions on their behalf, let them decide.

Integrating smart room digital technologies give patients a measure of control over their immediate setting, empowering them to:

  • Review their care plan and electronic health records
  • Request housekeeping services
  • Request staff assistance
  • View a menu and order food that’s based on dietary restrictions
  • Select their entertainment
  • Adjust the room’s lighting, blinds, and temperature

Convenience, and Comfort

It’s well documented that patients who rest more comfortably heal faster, and that translates to shorter lengths of stay. What if you could use smart room technology to make the patients’ stay more comfortable? That reality is now. Using smart TVs with an interactive platform, the patient can choose from a menu of soothing ambient sound videos that drown out hallway noise and enable more restful sleep.

Whether it’s music therapy, spiritual content, relaxation videos, TV, movies-on-demand, or games, your patient engagement system can provide comfort and patient distraction at a time when they may be feeling their lowest.

I’ve seen firsthand how making small changes like these increase and improve our opportunities to create better health outcomes.

The Future is Now 

As Sara Heath recently wrote, “While smart hospital rooms might vary between different organizations, the intent is largely the same: how can technology create a seamless patient experience, improve communication, and streamline clinical workflows?”

The truth is, there’s no cookie-cutter approach to creating a hospital smart room. It’s all about working alongside a technology partner to integrate your hospital’s EHR and other platforms into a connected experience for your unique patient population. For hospitals looking to deliver patient-connected, patient-centered care, the future is now thanks to the Allen E3 Patient Engagement platform.

Want to see what a hospital smart room looks like? Check out the smart way to connect patients to their care.

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Mark Lancaster is executive vice president of SentricsAcute Care Division and general manager of Allen. You can reach him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/marklancaster.