High patient satisfaction results at hospitals is a matter of life and death.
In a 2017 study reported in The New York Times, researchers saw that hospitals with more satisfied patients have lower mortality rates and lower readmission rates.
And yet, patient satisfaction with individual healthcare is the lowest it’s been in nearly 10 years, according to another recent study discussed in this webinar. The reasons for dissatisfaction vary, but there’s one solution to multiple complaints: A digital infrastructure that can deliver patient care—and comfort—over digital connections. As the need for services like telehealth continues to increase, demand and strain on healthcare organization’s networks will only grow, which could diminish the patient experience. Continued build-out of digital connectivity in rural communities will enable patient access to better care, especially as hospitals are being graded on client experience.
Not to be confused with reliability, “availability” specifically refers to systems and databases running 24/7, backed by a secure network—no matter how many vital applications are running at once.
If you’ve ever been in a conference while a speaker is using live-streaming to present, you may have noticed that their lips are out of sync with the audio coming through the speakers. So imagine this issue during a telehealth session. It leaves patients with an unsatisfactory experience. In a recent HIMSS Analytics research study, one of the challenges uncovered associated with the use of telehealth services today, especially in rural areas was latency or poor availability.
To prevent patient experiences like this from happening, healthcare organizations need sufficient bandwidth to transmit audio and video data between care providers and patients. This can mean within hospital networks or through the use of hospital services and third-party mobile apps. Platforms like these aim to satisfy improving the patient experience through connectivity, as part of the Quadruple Aim, a healthcare model focused on improving patient care, decreasing per capita cost, and improving overall population health.
There’s no one-size-fits all to the right bandwidth. It depends on the quality and speed of video used. So providers test networks during peak use. Results could show the need for a dedicated network for telehealth services, for example, to ensure that day-to-day Internet use does not interfere with telehealth connectivity.
Telehealth services rely on several components to best “meet” patients where they are and is the most important piece of the program. These tools allow healthcare providers to hear and see patients who are miles apart. Digital stethoscopes, for example, can send both heart beat and lung sounds to remote physicians. Tools like these are important, but if they don’t work consistently, even the best telehealth program can’t provide the support the organization and its patients need.
If the doctor and patient are interrupted by network connectivity issues (one of the biggest problems today) or are experiencing latency problems, this program’s reliability is suffering, and consequently, it may deter them from using it. Patients and doctors need a program that they can trust – one that works, with consistent connectivity each and every time they use their organization’s telehealth system. Without this, the patient is unlikely to think of this experience as a positive one, regardless of outcome.
From video cameras to telehealth carts and medical diagnostic tools, choosing these items in a piecemeal fashion harms reliability and may leave some healthcare facilities with an incompatible or un-integrated system. Or worse, one that does not prioritize security or connectivity. Networks must be ready to handle the surge in traffic that an influx of data brings, from each and every piece of equipment that makes up the telehealth system.
We strongly recommend that healthcare organizations choose equipment that compliments your healthcare organization’s network, giving your organization’s telehealth service the ability to scale outside of its four walls without any problems. Hospital organizations seeking the Triple Aim should consider the essential piece of the Quadruple Aim that requires them to embrace the notion that a happy and engaged workforce provides enormous and essential benefits for both patients and healthcare providers.
The network goes down, and there are multiple patients waiting to visit with care providers. No one knows how to fix it. Doctors now need to call patients individually to explain their diagnoses over the phone, and some patients may actually need to be transported to the hospital. A down network makes for a downward patient experience, costing time and money that neither party may be able to afford.
The solution to prevent a network from going down is proactive network monitoring to prevent problems before they become service outages. This can be as simple as equipment troubleshooting and as complex as network-level interruptions.
Connect with our experts.
One of the best ways to ensure that a network is up to the task is by partnering with a telecommunications provider that can consistently and securely provide broadband connectivity to support voice, video, Internet and wide area networks (WAN)—which is critical to both performance and compliance while meeting patient needs.
As new technology continues to become part of the patient experience, a secure, reliable infrastructure will become the core of a better visit to the hospital. Learn more about getting connected.
With 20-plus years of program and product management experience, Theresa Dudley is the Manager of Healthcare Programs at Spectrum Enterprise. She stays current with healthcare industry trends and represents Spectrum Enterprise at healthcare conferences and events.