Managing patient expectations in the Emergency Department (ED) is important in order to optimize patient satisfaction and maintain compliance. Yet, managing these expectations during a time of crisis – particularly in the ED – is challenging, if not seemingly impossible.
The pandemic has brought with it unprecedented volumes, heightened patient acuity, anxiety, and higher-than-normal expectations. Waiting rooms, at any given time, can be filled with angst, increased demands, and even abusive patients. This has a direct effect on staff, particularly as staffing is at an increasingly and critically low level. Staff in the ED feel pressure to meet patient expectations while doing all they can appropriately and safely manage the clinical needs of their patients.
Current Strategies are Not Enough
Clinical leaders, particularly nursing leaders, are searching for ways to lighten the burden their staff face each day. A combination of strategies are being deployed all over the country to meet the unprecedented staffing shortage. Travel nurses, double shifts, supplemental staff, process changes. Yet with all these strategies, healthcare professionals are still experiencing pressing challenges due to lack of time and insufficient staff: the ability to communicate with patients, keep families informed, and ensure the patient leaves the ED prepared can all take a hit during times of excessive volume. These suffer because nurses necessarily must focus on patient care first.
How can technology lighten the physical, mental, and professional load our healthcare professionals are experiencing during this time?
1. Manage Non-Clinical Communication
With AI-enabled technology, clinical leaders can best support their staff by alleviating the responsibility of managing non-clinical communication needs and wants of the patient – keeping them informed and therefore increasing their understanding about what to expect during their ED visit.
A good question to ask: How am I automating the FAQs/non-clinical bottlenecks in the ED? Think about how many questions can be avoided through user-friendly access to this vital information. Think about the downstream impact when we eliminate the need for face-to-face non-clinical progress updates. Think about how much uncertainty we can collectively avoid by empowering patients and staff in this way. With consumer-grade technology like Vital, you can automatically send personalized wait times, visitor policies, lab progress, time to discharge, etc. – and ultimately reduce the number of questions asked of our already slammed healthcare force.
2. Manage Patient Expectations
Automated, data-driven communication also serves to manage the patient’s expectations. When patients feel informed, in control of their situation, and have a greater understanding of what to expect – they are more satisfied with their experience and demand less of staff time.
Hospitals across the country are leaning on Vital’s ERAdvisor solution to help manage patient expectations. When integrated with the hospital’s electronic health record, ERAdvisor uses AI and NLP to automatically keep the patient informed with personalized wait times (based on many factors including acuity and age), educate them about the steps to expect during their ED visit, understand when lab and radiology results will be available, and even keep the patient’s family informed on visit progress.
3. Save Staff Time
Time and time again, we’ve heard from our clients that ERAdvisor must be working well because waiting rooms are quiet and patients are not constantly asking questions. While we have quantitative results and case studies available to reference, this is important feedback to highlight as well. We have a 97% satisfaction rate, demonstrating our ability to provide technology that helps hospitals operate more efficiently, helps staff, and does not hinder their ability to work quickly. Vital is running behind the scenes, making the ED experience better for everyone.
Our very easy-to-use, yet highly sophisticated software is saving staff time and therefore, easing the challenge of staffing shortages.
Guide Patients through the ED with Modern Tech
Vital is a digital platform with consumer-grade usability, easy sign-up and access, and is available on any device with a mobile web browser. Even before seeing a doctor or nurse, ERAdvisor’s machine learning algorithm helps identify patients who are likely to: be admitted, could be fast-tracked, and/or determine a patient's likelihood to require extra imaging or lab tests. ERAdvisor further supports staff by ensuring the patient is informed, reminded, and assisted in seeking necessary follow-up care post discharge from the ED.
Now, more than ever before, the use of AI-enabled, consumer-facing tech in health care is essential to easing the challenge of limited time and increased stress. Vital is proven to save staff time, increase patient satisfaction, improve patient compliance and ease the burden of overcrowded EDs. For more information, contact me for more information and a demo. I’m excited about the ways we are helping our clients in health systems across the country and look forward to growing the impact Vital can have across hospitals and health systems worldwide.