Conference Reviews

We Have a Website: The evolution of inpatient digital tools for engagement and health

Reviewed by Judson W. Barber, MD

Dr. Bokser began by talking about how The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2008 has driven the rise of Electronic Health Records (EHR). Prior to the law, only about 9% of non-federal acute care hospitals used at least some basic form of an EHR. By 2014, that number had risen to 75%. EHRs and their integration with other healthcare technologies lead to better communication between providers which in turn leads to improved safety and quality. EHRs can also be used to automate hospital processes which can also improve patient safety while increasing efficiency and lowering costs.

He then went on to explain what he calls, “Health 2.0,” and E-patients. E = Enabled, Empowered and Engaged. He presented a slide on who should make treatment decisions (presumably patients were the respondents) and “patient decides with doctor input” and “patient decides without doctor input” were 38% and 26%, respectively. He spoke of “Liquid Expectations” of healthcare consumers, especially Millennials, many of whom prefer a digital encounter. One survey showed that between 2015 and 2017 the number of Americans willing to switch primary care providers to get video visits jumped from 17 million to 50 million.

The next portion of the presentation dealt with inpatient engagement and healthcare consumerism.  The rise in healthcare consumerism was demonstrated by the rapid growth of HSAs.  Many people now choose a high-deductible insurance plan and are looking for a “wow” factor and expect some sort of digital experience. Value-based reimbursement is replacing traditional fee for service models. He made the business case for enhancing the digital experience for patients and thereby increasing “brand loyalty.” Additionally, cost-saving drives healthcare IT as hospitals try to maintain market share.

Dr. Bokser closed his talk with some examples of the use of technology in clinical setting to improve patient experience and satisfaction.  These included automated meal ordering, telehealth, video interpretation, population management and digital health therapeutics. A study was presented that showed use of tablet based distraction was superior to oral midazolam for pediatric surgical patients.  The use of a virtual reality headset for burn management was also shown.

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