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Patient’s Take On Making Hospital IT Patient-Friendly

Today I was talking with my mother about her experiences with hospitals and IT. My mother, you should know, is so computer averse that she won’t send or receive e-mails — she leaves that to Dad.  But despite her fear of home computing, she’s got some interesting opinions about how hospitals should use health IT to involve patients in the care process:

* If possible, she suggests, hospitals should assess a patient’s “electronic IQ” to see how comfortable they are with using technology. I liked this because it could apply not only to in-hospital info sharing but also the patient’s ability to participate in remote monitoring or other mHealth modalities.

*Give patients access to a schedule (via an app on a tablet, perhaps) which tells them when various tests, procedures and clinician visits are likely to happen. This not only calms the patient, it helps keep the family in synch with the patient’s routine, she notes.

* Display results of key tests — or if clinicians are concerned that patients won’t understand them, at least register when the results have been received, so  patients know their care process is progressing. She’d be happy with a note that said: “Dr. X will be in to discuss the results of your CT scan shortly.”

* Allow the patient and their family/caregivers to make notes within the system of what they want to discuss with clinicians.  Otherwise, as she rightly points out, they’re likely to forget what they wanted to say when the nurse or doctor swoops into the room with their own agenda.

Actually, my mother’s vision is already largely in place in at least one facility. As I reported last year, the Mayo Clinic has already begun a program using content- and app-loaded iPads to move the patient through their inpatient stay. Not only does the Mayo implementation do everything on my mother’s wish list, it also allows patients to report on pain levels and exchange messages with doctors.

Let’s hope more hospitals find a way to use IT to make the care process more transparent for patients. While it calls for a not-inconsiderable investment in time and resources, it seems like an excellent way to keep patients engaged in their care.

September 4, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies.

Leveraging Digital Signage in Hospitals

One thing I love about living in Las Vegas is that we have every conference imaginable in our lovely town. It turns out that most people in healthcare love this as well since it means that they can make a regular trip to Las Vegas for work. My most recent conference find is the Digital Signage Expo, February 26-28 and it has a surprising number of good healthcare focused content at the event.

As I thought about it more, digital signage is popping up everywhere in hospitals. For example, these are some of the areas that digital signage is used in hospitals to engage patients:

  • Digital Signage at Hospital Bedsides
  • Digital Signage in Lobbies
  • Digital Signage in Dining Area
  • Digital Signage in ED

However, the digital signage isn’t just seen by patients, but can also be a great way for hospitals to communicate important messages to clinical staff as well. Here are a few places where digital signage can engage the hospital staff:

  • Digital Signage in Nursing Units
  • Digital Signage in Employee Break Rooms
  • Digital Signage in Physician Lounges

Think about some of the possible benefits of properly implemented digital signage in hospitals:
Reduce Hospital Readmissions – This is a big topic in healthcare right now as hospitals search to lower costs and avoid penalties. Digital Signage can be a great way to properly educate the patients from when they step into your hospital to when they leave.

Increase Patient Compliance – Many hospitals are using their digital signage to educate their patients on discharge instructions, importance of filling and taking medications, and keeping follow up appointments with their primary care doctor.

Educate Caregivers – Many patients are recovering and unable to focus on the messaging provided, but digital signage provides an easy way to educate both the patient and their caregiver at the same time with a consistent, clear message.

Better Outcomes – This can be a particularly powerful outcome when clinical staff regularly see clinical messages. A simple example is using digital messages to improve hand washing in your hospital. An image can be a powerful motivator when it comes to promoting hand washing.

Put Patient at Ease – The right content can do amazing things to put a patient at ease during what can often be a very stressful experience.

Navigate the Facility – We often take for granted how easy it is for us to navigate the hospital. The same can’t be said for patients who visit the hospital irregularly. Digital Signage can’t help to alleviate this issue.

Patient Satisfaction – I have heard people talk about how reimbursement will soon be tied to patient satisfaction. Digital Signage is one major way to change the patient experience in your hospital for good. We will see a dramatic increase in patient satisfaction once we work to make their visit an experience.

Public Safety Alerts – In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and other disasters, I think we all can see the value of having a system available to communicate important safety alerts.

All of the above could lead to the most important result of them all: saving a life.

There’s a lot for a hospital to consider in order to achieve all of the benefits listed above using digital signage. The technology has become much more advanced, the variety of displays available is much broader, and then there’s always the challenge of how to produce and distribute the right content to these displays. Of course, this list doesn’t even include advanced functionality like the convergence of mobile technology with digital signage. That’s right. If you execute your digital signage properly, patients’ mobile devices can be a real asset to your messaging.

It seems like the Digital Signage Expo Healthcare track covers a lot of these challenges and more. Not to mention, it’s always great to hear how things are done in other industries so you can consider how that same thing can be applied to healthcare. Although, probably most interesting is Mayo Clinic’s Sharon Erdman leading a discussion on Patient Experience Design at the event.

I’d love to hear stories of how you’re using digital signage in your hospital or healthcare institution. What benefits and challenges have you seen?

December 13, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: and, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

At Mayo Clinic, Patients Getting Loaded iPads That Guide Them Through Stay

Today, we give you a short case study on how the Mayo Clinic is using content- and app-loaded iPads to move the patient smoothly and happily through their experience there.

I don’t know about  you, but these kind of applications really excite me. The patient shown here isn’t just being given an iPad to meander about with, he’s been supplied a tool filled with useful information that better orients him to his process at the hospital.

“The iPad is a nice way to navigate through some of those resources and keep track on a daily basis that you’re doing the things you need to do to make sure you’re doing the things that you should be,” heart patient Randy Sterner tells the interviewer, who seems to find the app easy to use.  (“It made him feel like a part of the process,” notes Sterner’s wife.)

Among the things the iPad app does is allow Sterner to report on, say, levels of pain he feels or exercise he has done. These reports are broadcast instantly to the healthcare team working on his case.

The iPad app in question was created by a team led by Dr. David Cook, who hoped to meet a need that wasn’t being met.  I say, bravo. This seems like a wonderful idea.

April 5, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies.

Microsoft, GE Creating (Me Too?) Platform For Integrating Clinical Apps

Here’s an fun announcement, a bit light on the details but certainly fascinating enough just by virtues of the companies involved. Microsoft and GE’s healthcare IT business have announced that they’re creating an open platform allowing providers and ISVs to create next-gen clinical apps.

Exactly what apps, the announcement doesn’t say, though it hints at fashionable stuff like population health management. (I think that’s corporate-ese for “we’re not sure what we’ve got yet.”)

Clearly, MS and GE are getting wind of efforts by firms like SAP — which has promised to deliver an abstraction layer which can bring myriad data sources into a single happy EMR database.  With the need for integrated health analytics growing stronger by the minute, health IT middleware has never been sexier.

The MS/GE joint venture brings a number of existing properties to the mix, including:

* Microsoft Amalga, an “enterprise health intelligence platform”

* Single sign-on and context management solution Microsoft Vergence

* GE Healthcare eHealth, an HIE platform

* Microsoft expreSSO, an  enterprise single sign-on solution

Perhaps the most interesting item on the list is GE Healthcare Qualibria. Qualibria is a clinical knowledge app GE is developing in partnership with Intermountain Healthcare and Mayo Clinic, both known for being innovative and forward-looking where quality analytics are concerned.

Not surprisingly, GE Healthcare IT will also be developing its own healthcare apps on the platform, which will be designed to connect with a broad cross-section of existing health IT products.

The stated function of the new platform, as stated in the two companies’ press release,  is “helping healthcare organizations and professionals use real-time, systemwide intelligence to improve healthcare quality and the patient experience.”

The real function, at this point, is “don’t let other enterprise IT companies jump ahead in healthcare IT,” I’d say. But clearly something cool could come out of this at some point, particularly from providers like Intermountain and Mayo. So stay tuned.

December 9, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.