Improving physician & patient experience + the 'holy grail' of future healthcare technology

Simultaneous improvement of physician and patient experience is no easy feat, but better odds at success are rooted in two important factors: engagement and support.

As the healthcare industry continues to adopt and implement new methods of technology, it is vital for health systems to stay engaged with their clinicians and patients to better understand and promote the practices that work best for their end users.

These were some of the insights Reid Conant, MD, chief medical information officer at Nuance Communications, shared at Becker's Hospital Review 7th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in Chicago, Nov. 12-14.

Here are three key takeaways:

1. Identify clinical champions to help support new technology. An important aspect in implementing new technology to improve clinician and/or patient experience is getting the support of your physicians. Dr. Conant explained that health systems are more likely to achieve successful technological integration on the clinician side when members of the medical staff are already familiar with and in support of the new technology.

"Getting [physicians] engaged, identifying super-users and clinical champions up front is a critical step. Getting those physicians on board early, exposed to the technology and sharing lessons learned from other sites ... But you've got to engage [physicians] in the process, in the pre-go live build, design and training or planning, so they're more engaged, at least at the champion level. That's very important."

2. Future of clinician experience is in voice recognition and ambient listening. With voice-recognition technology becoming more accessible through innovations such as Amazon's Alexa and Google Home, Dr. Conant explained that real-time availability of information, and the expectation of it, will become standard as automated clinical documentation and ambient intelligence continue to advance.

"Imagine a future state — and it's not too far off, believe it or not — where we're looking at a few years out where a physician walks into the room and starts talking to the patient, examines the patient, and through a combination of various sensors, machine vision as well as acoustic sensory microphone, array microphones, directional microphones and a smart speaker on the wall that's interactive … imagine the capture of the documentation and the automated construction of the notes. So, when [the physician] walks out of the room, the note is done, orders are drafted and then he or she goes and signs off on that. This is the holy grail, if you will, of where medical practices are headed in virtual assistance and a system of ambient clinical intelligence."

3. Using the patient to help improve experience. Seeking out and implementing methods to collect patient feedback can be very effective for health systems looking to improve the patient experience. Dr. Conant said the act of engaging with the patient and getting them more involved with their care services can go a long way in helping improve the EMR, yet he hasn't seen very many health systems capitalize the opportunity.

"From what I've seen, the patient in the acute setting, the ambulatory setting, even at home, is a very underutilized resource. They sit in the waiting room or read a magazine [when at the health system offices]. We can engage with them. A busy patient, to some degree, is a happy patient, right? So, the capture of patient-generated healthcare data, be it from a Fitbit or from an iPad survey or maybe a virtual assistant asking them 'how's your pain now?' 30 minutes after receiving pain medication. Capture that. I believe we will continue to further leverage the patient to add to the carrot (sic) of the medical record."

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