Penn Medicine study finds emoji buttons effective gauge of ED patient, clinician satisfaction

Installing touch-button terminals throughout a hospital's emergency department provides an accurate depiction of real-time patient and clinician sentiment, a recent study from Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine suggests.

In the study, terminals were placed near physician and nurse workstations and by the patient exit in the ED. Each of the three terminals was outfitted with four buttons marked with emoji faces representing very positive, positive, negative and very negative feelings.

Over the course of the five-month study period, the terminals recorded nearly 14,000 interactions. The majority came from clinicians, with the nurse workstation alone representing more than 50 percent of the feedback.

The researchers were able to draw connections between the recorded sentiments and real-time data concerning factors such as arrivals, length of stay, number of waiting patients and more. Therefore, they concluded, the terminals can serve as a reliable gauge of provider and patient sentiment in real-time, a significant improvement over past feedback methods such as post-visit surveys, which typically have low response rates.

"This work suggests that we can collect real-time provider and patient feedback that we haven't previously been able to identify," said senior author Raina Merchant, MD, director of the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health and an associate professor of emergency medicine. "This can allow for support when things are going well and addressing challenges when they occur."

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