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Explore the inpatient experience
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Rising patient expectations and innovations to patient-centric healthcare that were adopted during the pandemic will drive the patient experience of the future.

58% of patients say their expectations are higher than before the pandemic, and 87% of patient experience professionals say that meeting these higher expectations is a strategic imperative.1

Qualtrics Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adrienne Boissy agrees, adding, “Many organizations who are forward-thinking are recognizing [the need] to differentiate themselves. Patients expect quality and safety. They’re going to have to go above and beyond to not only retain the patients they have, but to grow and attract new [patients]. And I think the only way you do that is to make people feel as though they’ve had an extraordinary experience within your walls and beyond your walls as a healthcare system.”

For healthcare organizations who provide that differentiation, rewards abound. 75% of patients are more loyal to healthcare providers who invest in patient experience.1 This is why 92% of health systems consider better patient experience the most desired outcome from their digital improvements.3

Some of the tools to provide that differentiation already exist and are improving the patient experience right now.

How can AR and VR tools enhance the patient experience?

Healthcare professionals are beginning to employ exciting new tools to improve patient experience. Extended reality (XR) tools like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are currently being used for surgical treatments, mental wellness, preparation for procedures, diagnostics, education, collaboration, and remote consultation.

The advances in XR tools have been noted by CIOs. According to Kenneth Research, the global healthcare AR/VR market is estimated to grow from its $2 billion start at the beginning of this decade to $39 billion by the end of the decade.4

Aaron Miri, Chief Digital and Information Officer at Baptist Health, explains, “AR and VR [are] so exciting. We found it as a calming mechanism for mental therapy, for physical therapy, for rehab, as well as for folks to be able to explain the journey…of what’s about to happen. We’re using it as an educational tool, as clinical modalities. What you’re also finding are new prescriptive ways of dealing with folks that maybe have opioid addiction and other substance abuse, using AR and VR to control that. The future is so bright when it comes to augmented reality that I can’t wait for it to really take hold as a true clinical pathway.”

The patient experience can be improved with AR/VR both as part of a procedure and as an education tool. Patients who wear VR headsets during operations report being more relaxed and having a better overall experience.5 Patients who receive any kind of medication counseling or disease-specific education at discharge have a lower 30-day readmission rate, and education is a natural fit for XR tools.6

A smarter approach to patient rooms

Just as XR is modernizing short-term patient interactions, incorporating smart technology in the patient room improves longer-term inpatient experiences. Enhancements to the patient’s room stay start even before arrival, with customizations made to the bed, bathroom, and bedside devices based on patient preferences. Paperwork, room accommodations, and parking arrangements can be set up in an app before arrival as well.

Once the patient arrives, a digital whiteboard in the room can convey information in a more legible, understandable way than a traditional whiteboard. 70% of patients surveyed said digital whiteboards gave them a better understanding during their stay, and 96% preferred having a room with a digital whiteboard.7

The patient’s TV and smartphone can also be used to relay information. The preferred method of consuming information matters. In fact, patients rate their digital information experience (on websites and apps) as being more important than premiums, rates, and fees.8

Dr. Boissy concludes, “To be honest, that whole inpatient experience could probably use a little redo. It’s a little bit [like] you’re the patient coming to visit us in this 1950s hospital system. It’s time for something different. Thinking about preventing falls with lights that turn on when you walk into the room, queuing up who’s coming into your room — what their background is, what they love, why they went into healthcare on your TV — communicating your needs, ordering your food via your phone.”

Apps and devices can help inform patient and clinician interactions as well. “Why does somebody have to come into your room and round?” asks Dr. Boissy. “Why can’t the patient control and give feedback on an ongoing basis, and know that we will respond and close the loop immediately?”

Technology can also be used to enhance the physical environment of a patient’s room. Not all patients have a window view, so monitors can be set up as a personalized picture on a wall, modernizing the décor of the interior — supplementing an overall positive experience.

Adapting to the future of inpatient care

Experts agree that increased demand for accessible and personalized healthcare offerings will continue to drive the industry forward into the future.9 Healthcare organizations should adapt now, using smart collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams with Windows 11 to ensure changes are implemented properly and communicated effectively.

The patient experience will determine the health of the organization. It’s time for some preventive care.