As a recap in case you missed the beginning of this series, a patient journey map has two lines. One line is the patient’s expected level of satisfaction. This is the base level of expectation of what they feel a normal patient experience entails. The second line contours the experience itself. This line typically goes up and down throughout the patient journey, many times above the level of expectation, and many times dropping below gradually, or sometimes suddenly before returning. These are called cliffs, and many times the patient careens off of these cliffs into a ravine of dissatisfaction.
We have followed the patient from the waiting room and admissions as well as throughout their inpatient stay to see how technology may bridge the cliffs and valleys in the patient journey. Now it’s time to look at the patient journey as it pertains to aftercare. Ironically, the first step of aftercare actually starts in the facility itself, before the patient is discharged.
Cliff One: Discharge Instructions
You’ve been in the hospital for several days. Many times you have been a little incoherent due to the pain medication you’ve been on. Then an hour before you are to be discharged, a nurse comes in and gives you some verbal instructions on how to continue caring for yourself at home. A few minutes later the doctor comes in and also gives you some instructions and they vary slightly. Then you are asked to sign some papers saying that you have been advised of your responsibilities once you return home and you are handed a stack of carbon copies for future reference. No wonder you are slightly confused about what to do.
Imagine instead that your aftercare instructions have been recorded so that they are consistent and clear. You are given access to the videos from your in room flat panel television the day before your discharge, meaning that you can watch them at your discretion when you feel the best and most able to understand them. Then upon your discharge, you are also given a link to the same videos on the provider’s website for future reference, in case something was unclear. All of a sudden, the cliff created by the human element of delivering discharge instructions has been bridged by a simple technology solution, one that also keep a digital record for the provider, mitigating their liabilities as well. This is the value of an interactive patient education system.
Cliff Two: Follow Up Appointments
Being discharged doesn’t always mean that the patient is better. They’re just well enough to recover at home. Typically there are several follow-up visits to a physician after a hospital stay. These visits typically discuss persistence of symptoms, how the patient feels, and they also evaluate the healing process. Follow up in assuring positive patient outcomes and also in reducing costly readmissions. However, many times these follow up appointments and tests can be tedious. So much so that the patient is dissatisfied in having to attend them or worse, skips the follow up care altogether. Utilizing video teleconferencing (VTC) technology for follow up visits can make them extremely convenient for both the patient and the physician and reduce the barriers to attendance. When used in conjunction with biometric sensors given to the patient at discharge, the physician can actually collect real time data during the VTC session assuring that the course of treatment prescribed is accurate.
Patient journey mapping is the ultimate way to make sure that you are aware of your patient experience, especially the places that your patient ends up getting pushed off a virtual cliff. Once you have isolated the cliffs, it’s time to look at the most efficient way to bridge those satisfaction gaps. Many times, as illustrated in the last few posts, that solution can be found in the innovative technology being implemented in healthcare today.
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About Jeff Miller
Jeff has been working in the professional AV integration industry for over twenty years. During that time he has served as Designer, Project Manager and/or Account Executive for hundreds of projects. As an Account Executive at Avidex, he specializes in Medical, Education, and Control Rooms. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org