The patient experience at a large hospital is often defined by stress and anxiety. Patients are vulnerable, and healthcare facilities impersonal. Trigger points are basic but overwhelming, and can include worries such as, “Why doesn’t the nurse remember my name?” “How do I know where to go next?” “How will I know what to expect?”
Can technology bring calm to the patient journey?
At TEECOM, we think it can, and our recent experience designing a fully integrated technology infrastructure for the new Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas offers some practical lessons.
Parkland serves as the primary care center for Dallas County, and it is Texas big. At 2.8 million square feet, it has 862 licensed beds, 96 NICU rooms, and a 120-bay ER. It houses the largest trauma center in the southern U.S. and the second largest birthing center in the nation, as well as the second largest civilian burn unit.
TEECOM was brought on to research, plan, and design the integrated technology systems that support the hospital’s immediate and future needs. The vision of the hospital leaders and the design team was to create a model of digitally supported healthcare.
One way to get there is to create a network that can reach out to patients, visitors, and staff through an array of smart devices, including personal mobile phones. Parkland Hospital’s building is wired to guide and track occupants from the moment they enter.
The digitally guided patient journey through Parkland:
- Entering the lobby, the patient consults a touchscreen kiosk to locate their clinic. The kiosk sends directions to the patient’s smartphone via text, email, or a photograph.
- Checking into their clinic, the patient is immediately recognized when hospital staff bring up their medical records on a hand-held device that can communicate with other caregivers.
- Housed in his or her inpatient room, patients are identified by a digital energy-efficient power-over ethernet sign outside their door which names their caregiving team members and gives individual care guides, such as if they are in isolation or have dietary restrictions.
- The patient, apprehensive about the upcoming procedure, watches videos on a 42-inch LCD television in their room explaining what they can expect from their treatment.
- When the patient has questions or needs while in their room, they simply use the high-tech, high-touch VoIP telephone, which has a camera and a screen. When a nurse answers a patient’s call, the two can see and hear each other.
- During the patient’s procedure in the hospital’s Operating Suites, advanced video capability helps surgeons during operations and can be used as an educational tool with the patient’s consent. Eight video screens track patient vitals.
- During recovery, the patient stays in a smart bed that monitors his or her vital signs, communicating immediately with caregivers’ mobile devices if, for example, an IV bag is empty or if a patient’s blood pressure is rising.
These examples show how integrated technology not only supports the operational imperatives of a large healthcare organization, but amplifies the healing power of human interaction. Patients want to know that they are seen as individuals, and to have their needs recognized. The social approach to healthcare practiced by Parkland Hospital gives patients more control over their experience and confidence that their needs are being anticipated.
The integrated technology infrastructure that TEECOM designed for this state-of-the-art hospital is the lifeblood that makes these connections work, supporting high-bandwidth, real-time, interactive and data-rich health management.
“There are all sorts of exciting ways to involve technology in a hospital that go beyond medical records,” said Chantal Worzala, director of policy for the American Hospital Association. “The ultimate goal is having the highest-quality care. And as we learn how these technology systems can support that, hospitals will be adopting them across the board.”
If you have a healthcare project that could benefit from technological tools for the patient experience, TEECOM would love to talk with you.