New Directions: Patient Satisfaction Goals Are Pushing Health Facilities Professionals to Seek Innovative Solutions

By Burmahl, Beth | Health Facilities Management, December 2016 | Go to article overview

New Directions: Patient Satisfaction Goals Are Pushing Health Facilities Professionals to Seek Innovative Solutions


Burmahl, Beth, Health Facilities Management


Heading into a new presidential administration, managers looking to the future of health care have two words guiding them: patient satisfaction. With patient satisfaction and outcomes increasingly driving the health care field, health facilities professionals are working overtime to find out what patients want--not only for today, but for years down the road.

That mandate is driving innovation in every area of design and construction, environmental services and infection prevention, engineering and technology, and materials management as health facilities professionals work to stay on top--and ahead--of a continually moving target.

"Some hospitals that have been scoring well in patient satisfaction might be in for a surprise in a few years if they aren't able to anticipate what the patient is going to expect down the road," says Chad E. Beebe, AIA, CHFM, CFPS, CBO, SASHE, the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) deputy executive director of advocacy.

Some hospitals are so dedicated to change that they are creating entire centers devoted to innovation. For example, Intermountain Healthcare in Utah opened a Transformation Lab in 2013 that is shepherding projects including the patient room of the future, 3-D printing applications and sensors to boost hand-hygiene compliance.

Advanced technology is improving the patient experience on every level--from 3-D virtual mock-ups that aid facility designers to software that alerts staff of patient movements to medical equipment that interacts as never before.

Managers also are moving toward systems like enterprise data warehousing, offering sophisticated analytics that help with everything from reducing readmissions to analyzing patient flow to investing in new products. Predictive analytics is allowing hospitals to mine data on an even deeper level.

"Analytics is playing a larger role in guiding the product decisions physicians, clinicians and supply chain professionals are making," says Michael Schiller, CMRP, senior director, supply chain, Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management. "The supply chain executive of the future will need to translate analytics into action."

On the home front

Improving patient care and cutting costs has driven the shift from central hospitals to satellite clinics and offices, emergency departments and retail health care. Largely based on research showing that patients have a better recovery rate in their own environments, hospitals are taking this a step further by moving toward a home health care model, Beebe says.

If adopted, this model will impact everything from future designs to infection control issues and will ensure that technology like telehealth is a must-have for many hospitals.

"Once a patient returns to a home environment, hospital staff need to make sure that the environment is not hazardous, that there is no infection risk," Beebe says. "It's a challenge, but this is where technology can play a big role, not only with home monitoring, but in areas like virtual doctor visits. This is the direction health care is headed."

Hospitals will rely heavily on interoperability solutions to exchange patient information across settings and increasingly will turn to remote technology to monitor a patient's health parameters, often utilizing iPads or Bluetooth-connected devices.

The move to health care outside hospital walls could inspire other creative solutions. Meredith Hotchkiss, RN., regional manager, Trinity Hospitality Services West, Boise, Idaho, sees a future in which patients will be able to access an online infection prevention service through existing patient portals at their health care facilities.

"This could be a web-based service for patients on how to disinfect certain items at home," says Hotchkiss, also co-chair of the Association for the Healthcare Environment advisory council. …

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