Improving the Inpatient Experience: Checking in with a Tablet

Below is a guest blog submission from Ashley Rodrigue, Healthcare Ambassador at Lenovo.

Without a doubt, technology has transformed how healthcare providers deliver care. Providers are increasingly using technology in the management and treatment of their patients, and this surge is a result of federal guidelines that were passed requiring hospitals to demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic health records. And if certain criteria are met, providers are eligible to earn incentive payments.

We talk a lot about what technology is doing for providers, but what can it do for patients?  There’s growing appeal for technology to target end users, or patients, in addition to providers. In fact, providers and organizations are investing in technology that not only meets IT requirements, but patient requirements, as well.

Hospitals are starting to explore how technology, can improve the inpatient experience. Imagine you’re a patient. You walk through the doors of your hospital and when you check in, you’re handed a tablet – and it’s yours to use until you check out. A recent Wall Street Journal article discusses the variety of ways tablets are being used by inpatients. From the comfort of their beds, they can use their tablet to contact their doctor with questions, notify nurses if they need meds, access hospital paperwork that needs sign off, and turn the lights on and off in their room.

Tablets that are equipped with mobile point of sale (mPOS) solutions can even be used by patients to make secure electronic payments. With an easy swipe, they can order meals from the hospital cafeteria, a movie if they’re bored, access Facebook and Skype with family and friends.

By the time patients check out of the hospital, they leave having been more connected and engaged with their doctors, nurses and the management of their health. And it doesn’t have to stop there. Other healthcare environments – like ambulatory care and long term care facilities – can leverage tablets.

Patients can use a tablet to check into their appointment at an ambulatory care facility. If it’s a routine visit, they can check in, log in how they’re feeling, sign into their patient portal to review their medical history, access their co-pay information and sign off on relevant documents. And how about using a tablet to occupy your time as you’re sitting in the waiting room, waiting for your name to be called? Imagine having the opportunity to read your email, play a game, or check Facebook or Twitter to pass the time.

There’s also significant opportunity for tablets to be “leased” to long term care patients. It is estimated that the population of adults 65 years and older will expand to 72 million by 2030.1 As part of a home care preventative maintenance plan, or a long term care facility inpatient plan, a tablet equipped with what patients need, like apps, can make a significant difference to their health. For instance, just think how a grandparent can benefit from understanding how to video chat with their families that live far away or can’t visit all the time.

What do you think of this growing trend, and how tablets can improve the patient experience?

1 U.S. News & World Report. How Baby Boomers Will Change the Economy.