Tag Archives: patient engagement

AI Healthcare

Is Your Hospital Ready for the Future of AI?

Leaps in computing power, programming abilities, and the web of interconnected devices has created a boom in artificial intelligence.

A.I. will undoubtedly improve, disrupt, and alter every industry in the world, but it’s in healthcare that it could make the strongest impact. Artificial intelligence could one day be the ultimate medicine — if knowledge is power, then infinite, bespoke knowledge on any medical condition or patient could provide clinicians with their greatest tools yet.

With medical tablets and medical computers providing the necessary digital infrastructure, the following advances in AI might be deployable very soon in healthcare facilities around the globe.

The American AI Initiative Moves Forward

On February 12th, the “American AI Initiative” executive order was signed, with the intent to foster and improve the development of artificial intelligence in the United States. It serves to outline the country’s AI policy going forward, showing a commitment to further development of the technology and law that could have an enormous impact on healthcare technology.

Obviously, the idea is to spur innovation and funding in all areas of AI, but considering how poised the healthcare industry already is to take advantage of this area of technology, the signing of this order could have an enormous impact on hospitals in the near future.

The executive order is separated into five pillars: funding, government resources, international engagement, standardization, and automation.

The funding aid is obvious — innovation doesn’t happen without dedicated cash flows. The “government resources” pillar allows researchers to make use of federal data to help their experiments, while the “international engagement” pillar pushes for cooperation between the US and other nations who are also heavily involved in the development of AI. The “standardization” pillar is of particular use to healthcare and medical computers, because it doubles down on ensuring that ALL companies and developers will be able to interconnect their systems to everyone’s benefit.

With the assortment of EHR systems, medical computer systems, and even hospital-specific programs that are in use, a “one standard to rule them all” could prevent another Apple vs. PC format war that would only end up hurting hospitals and consumers.

Aiding the Visually Impaired

The data gathered and processed by AI is already being used to help blind and visually impaired people.

It began with apps like NavCog, which used Bluetooth beacons scattered around an indoor space to allow a blind person to navigate with the help of their phone. While it can (and is used) for homes, the system has also been deployed in places like hotels and hospitals to assist the visually impaired.

The next generation of the technology, however, involves the use of a suitcase-like device that leverages artificial intelligence and laser-navigation lidar to create a real-time picture of the immediate environment. This “suitcase AI” could then relay that information, and help guide the user through audio cues.

Amazon, Google, and many other tech giants are already jumping into this same field, developing apps, programs, and hardware that could be of great use to not only the impaired, but to healthcare or elderly facilities as well.

AI Chatbots Helping Patients and Doctors

The importance of patient engagement and telehealth are well known at this point, but perhaps what isn’t as widespread is the idea that medical computers, and specifically A.I., just may be the key to pulling it off. All of healthcare is understaffed, which is why a little help from computers could be just what the doctor ordered.

Chatbots like Babylon Health almost function as full-fledged telehealth options in their own right. The AI chatbot uses a database of medical information and, when compared against the patient’s medical history and symptoms, can help a patient do the preliminary research on any medical complaints before they see a doctor. With text or voice chat support, patients can simply tell the chatbot their symptoms and get a relatively accurate solution. It won’t replace the hospital, but it’s a wonderful starting place for any patient — and saves the Urgent Care lobby from looking like Woodstock.

For older, forgetful, or simply busy patients, consider pointing them toward “Florence,” a personal AI nurse. Florence can remind patients to take their medicine (at whatever interval is desired), and can help track weight loss, menstrual cycles, and even mood and mental health.

A chatbot like “Safedrugbot” is actually for clinicians, a quick app/chat message service that allows doctors to ask about what drugs are safe to use for breastfeeding mothers. It even includes information about alternate medications.

These interactive AI are only the first step in augmenting patient care and battling healthcare understaffing.

AI to Help Detect Cancer

The combination of medical computers and AI to detect cancer could be a gamechanger for healthcare facilities across the globe.

A study by the University of Surrey and the University of California tested the use of AI networks and their efficacy in not only analyzing cancer symptoms from patient records, but also in using that data to identify cancer symptoms in patients that may have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

The idea is that the AI is constantly using a stream of live data from all connected hospitals and research centers, so its database is always improving. This information comes from a host of devices and locations — it combines demographics information, doctor notes on their medical computers, test results, lab images, examinations, Internet of Medical Things devices, medical surveys, study data, and any and all available recordings.

The AI then uses this information to create a kind of map of cancer symptoms. For instance, with access to such a firehose of information, the AI can use determinators like age, gender, location, previous medical history, genetics, and combine it with any known risk factors and symptoms. The AI can then compare all the data for that individual patient against ALL patients, everywhere, to determine the likelihood that the patient in question may have cancer, what kind of cancer, and how best to treat it.

Though this kind of AI network is still in testing, it could provide unprecedented levels of aid for diagnosticians, helping to catch cancer long before a test would normally be ordered.

It could even look at a patient’s risk factors and determine that they may just be at a high risk of cancer in the future, which could aid doctors in creating a plan to prevent that diagnosis in the future.

Paving the Way for AI

Artificial intelligence is already on the way, and could provide a quantum leap forward in diagnosis, patient engagement, and accessibility. However, AI definitely can’t do any of that on out-of-date or consumer-level technology.

Contact Cybernet today to learn about how long-lasting medical computers can survive and thrive in the brutal environment of a hospital, and how they can future-proof any healthcare facility for the bevy of technological changes that are on their way.

Top Hospitals

What Makes a Top Hospital?

The truth is, there is no perfectly objective method to determine the “best hospital.”

But, there’s no denying that the highest ranked hospitals have a few qualities in common: innovation, patient care, and communication above everything else.

But how do they do it? How can we apply those lessons to hospitals around the world?

Embracing Innovation

Unsurprisingly, innovation and a willingness to adopt new technology rank high on the list.

It isn’t always about money, either. It’s about the hospitals that aren’t afraid to shake up existing processes, to educate the staff and deploy new tools to the best possible use.

Adopting Agile Hardware

Health professionals and clinicians everywhere are on their feet for days at a time, racing from room to room. As computer systems and EHR invade every inch of medical life, there simply isn’t always time to sit at a desktop computer.

Some hospitals have embraced mobile technology like medical tablets. Modern medical tablets are small, portable, and some come with hot-swappable batteries — meaning they can be in constant operation without having to sit and charge for a portion of the day. They also can be equipped with built-in barcode, RFID, and smart card scanners, removing a lot of the peripherals clogging up computer carts.

Blockchain

One of the keys of innovation is vision — as hockey legend Wayne Gretzky put it, “don’t look where the puck is. Look where the puck is going.” When it comes to data protection sharing, the proverbial puck is heading toward distributed ledgers like blockchain.

In short, blockchain democratizes information, protecting it by sharing an encrypted version of a particular file or database across hundreds or thousands of other computers on the chain. For healthcare applications, the security and accountability of blockchain make it difficult for hackers to penetrate, or for unintentional leaks to occur.

Blockchain also has fantastic applicability in drug tracking, which is required by law after the “Drug Supply Chain Security” act of 2013. And since every transaction in the shared database is constantly checked against the same copy stored on multiple servers, illegally altering the drug inventory for nefarious purposes is basically impossible.   

Interoperability

Hospitals and healthcare are heavily burdened by the twin chains of high stakes and the ensuing regulation that comes with such an important responsibility.

But, like all complex endeavors, communication is key. And not just communication between management and staff, or staff and patients — though that’s important too — but also among the hardware and software that has become ubiquitous in medical practices.

EHR Software Blues

EHR systems don’t always play nice with others, with many software companies making it actively difficult to communicate with competitor software. This is why top hospitals, and those striving to avoid these pitfalls, embrace emergent technology.

The way forward isn’t exactly clear: even Trinity Health reported a 100 million dollar fee for switching to a more unified EHR system. However, more popular EHR systems like Epic — and the medical computers with built-in Epic compatibility — have a wider reach and more options for inter-hospital communication.

Improved Patient Outcomes

Top hospitals all have one thing in common, and it’s both the most important and least-surprising component: patient quality of care, patient satisfaction, and patient outcomes.

It’s unhelpful to say “the best hospitals are the ones that have the healthiest patients.” It’s more important to dive into why these patients go home happier and healthier.

Never Too Much Information

Top hospitals do keep a weather eye on feedback and metrics.

If patient outcomes take a dip, smart administrators will research all of the changes to the hospital up to a few months before the drop. A strong system of data — perhaps stored on the blockchain mentioned earlier and accessible by any connected medical PC — can allow admin to cross-check contributing factors like management changes, new hires, equipment installation / loss, season, new epidemics, and even economic or political changes in the area.

As Sherlock Holmes would say: “Data, data, data.” You can’t make bricks without clay.

Ask the Patients

Patient care and patient outcomes go hand-in-hand, which is why user surveys are so important to top-level hospitals.

There are three great times for administering patient satisfaction surveys: when they are discharged, on the patient portal afterward, and in-room during care. While discharge and portal surveys are best left in written or digital form, a quick in-person check can provide emotional context clues.

Some hospitals have a staff manager make a quick round with every patient, asking them something simple like “how was the food?”, “were your medications explained well?” and/or “were your needs met in a timely manner?” Consider including one of your common pain points in the survey. If your hospital has been receiving negative feedback about patients feeling like they aren’t being given options, ask the current patient if they feel that way.

This in-person survey answers can either be jotted down on a clipboard by the staff member, or inputted into a medical tablet or nearby medical computer.

Patient Engagement

Studies have shown that an engaged patient is an attentive patient, one who takes responsibility for their own healthcare.

They participate as a member of the medical team, especially when given the education and support by the hospital or healthcare provider.

Improving Patient Portals

Top hospitals and healthcare providers have online patient portals, a place for patients to make and manage appointments (at a minimum). However, top facilities push even further, creating a one-stop-shop for patient education and communication.

The best portals allow patients to pursue educational videos and programs based on their conditions — if a patient is undergoing a vasectomy, for instance, a flag in the system sends the appropriate videos, statistics, and study materials to the patient’s inbox.

Consider offering voluntary quizzes or “refreshers” where the patient can demonstrate and cement their knowledge of their condition or upcoming procedure.

The Human Touch

Engagement in person is just as important.

Clinicians need to be trained to present diagnoses and treatment options in layman’s terms, verifying every step of the way that the patient is synthesizing the information and not just nodding and smiling. Ask them what they know about their condition already, and use this opportunity to (gently) correct them if they are under false impressions.

If there are any available, accessible education videos or visual aids you could show the patient on something like a medical LCD monitor, that will only help them retain information.

In performing these “educational checks,” the top hospitals in the United States (and the world) help patients make the most of their treatment, and reduce the kind of misconceptions and errors that end up putting patients right back in the hospital.

Community Importance / Engagement

While medical care will always be of primary importance, top hospitals have expanded beyond the patient’s room and out into the community.

Food insecurity has a devastating effect on patient success and long-term health, both physically and mentally. The higher-ranking hospitals usually have some kind of food bank or pantry program to help feed underprivileged members of the community. It isn’t just about charity — though that is a noble goal — it’s a natural extension of a hospital’s function. Malnutrition — especially at a young age — can lead to a host of health problems later in life.

Hospitals that provide safe playgrounds, libraries, or indoor play-spaces for community children are most effective in low-income or high-crime areas. A study by the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University found that crime increased markedly around parks, with some areas displaying crime statistics twice as high in the park as in surrounding environs.

And since children are the most common users of park playgrounds, well-meaning attempts to have fun and get some exercise could end up exposing the most at-risk children to unhealthy experiences. Safe and supervised hospital playground spaces mitigate that damage, providing a safe space for neighborhood children to play and thrive.

Reaching and engaging the community can provide a kind of pre-emptive healthcare, giving those in need the tools and education necessary to live a long and healthy life.

Common Factors

When it comes to examining why top hospitals are so effective and laudable, it’s a smart idea to also take a look at possible contributing factors.

While the following factors may not necessarily land on this side of the causation/correlation loop, the stats don’t lie, and these factors do seem disproportionately common in higher-scoring hospitals.

The Power of Teaching Hospitals

While many might shy away from getting their haircut at a barber college, it turns out that healthcare at a teaching hospital tends to rank higher.

They even have lower mortality rates: a study posted on PubMed found that “private teaching hospitals had a significantly lower adjusted mortality rate than private nonteaching hospitals,” with an 8-point increase in survival rates for the teaching hospitals.

Some believe that since both the teachers and students are on their best behavior, and are under such stringent regulations and supervision that their care may be similarly elevated.

More experimental or rare medical procedures are often only available at teaching hospitals, allowing student doctors to experience a wide variety of solutions like bone marrow transplants and other specialized surgeries. This could explain some of the higher patient outcomes coming out of a teaching hospital — many patients who need difficult procedures end up receiving them at these educational hospitals.  

Size Doesn’t Matter

Large hospitals may have the benefit of resources, but they don’t always score higher based off size alone.

In the 2016 “100 Great Hospitals in America” listing by Becker Hospital Review, only 15% of their top-level hospitals had over 1,000 beds. And while every other hospital on the list wasn’t necessarily a three-bed hospice, it does show that “biggest guns” may not be as important to patient outcome as one would believe at first blush.

A Pinch of Salt

Remember to take hospital ratings with a healthy dose of skepticism — hospitals are simply too complicated to be easily graded. And, doing well on reviews might mean that the hospital is just good at the paperwork required by reviewing bodies.

However, the basic tenets of patient care, innovation, and communication will always hold out over the ratings on a medical blog.

To learn more about integrating the latest medical computers and how they can streamline processes in a hospital, contact Cybernet today.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Increasing Patient Engagement Improves Patient Outcomes

Patient engagement means the patient is doing more than just popping in for yearly checkups and going home without another thought toward their health.

It means transforming from a passive consumer into an active member of the team devoted to promoting health.

Educating Patients Leads to Compliance

The first step to patient engagement is education.

We know doctors and healthcare professionals are busy, facing mountains of paperwork and seemingly endless streams of patients. The shortage of healthcare professionals is also real.

However, taking the time to educate the patient on their condition can save them from coming back to your office next week or next month with exacerbated medical issues. Don’t just tell them to “stretch their wrist three times a day.” That information is easily filed away alongside “drink eight glasses of water” and “don’t go swimming after you eat.”

Instead, show the patient a diagram of the wrist on a nearby monitor or medical computer, and point out how tendon gliding can alleviate some of the symptoms, and why it works. More importantly, tell them what can happen to the tendons if they don’t do the recommended stretches.

Help Patients Educate Themselves

Another way to save time and increase patient compliance and education is to offer a bedside or in-room medical computer terminal that the patient has limited access to. It could even be the terminal that’s already in the room, with a patient-specific login.

From it, the patient could pull up their new prescriptions and learn how often they have to take their medication. They could remind themselves how to take it: with water, with food, or only in the morning.

The patient could even access information on what the drug does and how it helps. Again, “take this pill because I said so” is never going to sink in like “take this pill so your veins don’t get so small you can’t move blood around your body anymore.”

You could use such a terminal to give the patient all sorts of useful information – what food to eat, what beverages to stay away from, how often they need to take a walk around the facility. This last one could come with an alarm or reminder.

You could even show them a video or animated graphic that visually outlines a procedure they’re either considering or about to undergo.  

This doesn’t only have to be available bedside, either. For a situation like a doctor’s office, a kiosk or medical tablet in the waiting room could allow patients to log in and learn all of this information as well.

Stay in Touch to Stop Unnecessary Appointments

The next step is communication.

When the patient knows “there are no stupid questions,” they’ll be far more likely to come to you when they have a healthcare problem.

And, if you’re active on social media, have a text help or nursing line, or regularly share your email with your patients, they’ll also reach out to you remotely with small matters instead of either ignoring them (which is bad for their health) or scheduling an unnecessary appointment (which eats time and resources for all involved).

Many providers and offices use patient portals, an automated system that allows patients to contact their doctor or doctor’s office through a safe, secure channel.

Leveraging Communication Technology

Think of that bedside medical computer or medical monitor from the example earlier in this article. Not only could it be used for convenient patient education, but also to facilitate communication.

Imagine a patient using the medical computer to call the nurse’s station, and instead of a beeping light or buzzing speaker the nurse can actually see the patient face-to-face and address their concerns without leaving the desk. Not only will the patient feel more comfortable knowing they have that kind of access, but it could increase efficiency across the board.

Instead of running back and forth between rooms to find out what’s the matter when a patient rings, one nurse could be in charge of this form of communication with every room.

That triage nurse could then dispatch nurses where they’re most needed, saving them time and energy that could be best spent somewhere else.

Patient Satisfaction Strengthens Patient Engagement

This is where patient satisfaction ties in with patient engagement: patients are more likely to partner with their doctor and medical team if they are happy.

Studies and surveys have shown that patients who score higher on satisfaction and engagement metrics like the “Patient Activation Measure” are “significantly more likely than people who score lower to engage in preventive behavior such as regular check-ups, screenings, and immunizations.”

It’s basic human psychology — we disregard the advice and opinions of people we don’t like. It’s the basis for most of the unrest on social media.

So, imagine a patient who feels they’ve had a horrible experience at the hospital. They’re angry at the doctor, angry at the nurses, and they want to leave. Then, the doctor lets them know they can’t eat red meat anymore, or that they should get some exercise, or instructs them how and when to change the bandages, there’s a good chance the patient isn’t even listening anymore. Or, if they are listening, they’ve decided the doctor/staff/hospital is clearly a mess, and doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

This, in turn, leads to the patient not following the instructions, which can drastically affect their future health. The patient is not engaged, and, in fact, may be actively going against their own health because they’re angry or feeling ignored.

As you can see, patient satisfaction isn’t just about dollars and numbers — it directly affects the long-term health of the patient.

The Key to Patient Engagement

It takes both sides of the healthcare equation to make patient engagement a reality – patient participation and clinician support.

To find out more about how to leverage medical computers and tablets to improve patient outcomes you can contact Cybernet today.

patient engagement and medical tablets

3 Problems Hospitals Face that Can Be Reduced with Medical Computers

There are hiccups in workflow and patient care caused by universal problems in hospitals, but thankfully they can be shrunk. Before the communication age revolutionized how we do work, mistakes were abundant and costly. Fortunately for us now, productivity is higher and manual methods of patient care have been automated enough so error is nearly eliminated—for hospitals that stay current with technological trends, that is. Sometimes hospitals can get left behind by not advancing their technology to what’s available in the 21st century. Here are some problems tech-slow hospitals still face.

The Medical Tablet to Solve Medication Problems

There are a myriad of medication problems that aren’t as apparent with face value—improper medicine choice, prescription errors (yes, illegibility), improper medication strength, improper labeling, it’s an exhaustive list. These errors are classified as either knowledge, rule, action, or memory-based errors. These errors, all related to human interaction, occur when distractions are frequent or staff is overworked. We could go into detail about every possible example of an error and the simple reasons behind them, but the simple fact is that they occur and there are methods of reducing their frequency.

Remove the human error out of medication handling by using a medical computer or tablet with barcode scanner. You can identify a patient by their medical wristband by scanning it and then feeding that information into a medical device. A medical tablet can consult a database of medications upon scanning the patient wristband barcode, identify the correct medication, access previous healthcare records, pull previous dosage requirements, send information to a printer for proper labeling, dispense and bottle the medication, and then print the correct label, removing human error out of the mix. It’s a completely automated ailment-to-solution process for patients.

Constant Communication is a Must

According to The Joint Commission, communication problems lead to 70 percent of patient care delays. So how do we improve communication to see that percentage shrink? It’s not like all medical staff are available to take an impromptu meeting, and it’s certainly not ethical to pull out a cell phone in the middle of conversation with a patient to answer a text. Highly effective, constant communication is a must, especially after a nurse meets with a patient to discuss whatever pressing topic is on their minds—if a patient requests changes in medication, doctors should be notified immediately.

Nurses and medical staff can ensure constant communication as a group or on an individual basis with medical tablets. Some (if not all) EHR systems utilize texting software to instantly update all connected individuals of matters in the hospital. Using a touch-screen keyboard and their EHR software, they can text individuals as a group or just a single person for immediate information sending. A medical tablet is a better choice over other electronic devices because if any patient information is shared via a text, the information is kept secure and protected on the medical tablet. Plus, the proper medical tablets are durable enough to withstand shock and accidental damage in the case of a staff member with butterfingers.

Giving Power to the Patients

Decades ago, patients relied solely on nurses and staff to cater to each bedside request—and the staff wasn’t always available at the press of a button. Imagine you’re a nurse and three patients press the call button at the same time. There’s a conundrum of time and priority.

When patient engagement technology took off, it empowered the bedridden by giving them access to a food menu at whim, entertainment with a selection of movies, and an opportunity to stay in contact with whomever they wanted via teleconference. It’s trends in patient engagement that enhance a person’s independence by controlling more by the bedside to make their stay a little brighter. Nurses are called to the bedside less frequently so patient care can be their sole focus.

Addressing technological problems in “slow” hospitals is vital to overall success—that being sending patients home happy and in better health—and the technical solutions mentioned above are prime for seeing those problems go away. In the 21st century, hospitals need better technology to ensure fewer errors and empower patients. Don’t be left in the dust while other hospitals are miles ahead. Take a look at what we have to offer to modernize your healthcare facility and contact us today to see how we can help you improve the overall patient experience in your facility.