|Abstract:||Despite healthcare in the United States being a multi-trillion-dollar industry, the service that patients receive is falling short of expectations. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, customer satisfaction scores are becoming a larger part of the hospital rankings nationwide and impacting their reimbursement from insurance companies.
With a population of 325 million in the United States, there are a staggering 130 million ED visits each year (CDC and Prevention, 2013). There is no single specific user group for hospitals. Patients are young and old, come from every nationality and range in income and education. It is a place we all want to avoid, but almost every single person has an ED experience in their lifetime. We cannot eliminate health crises from happening, but we can improve the treatment experience.
The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is a nationwide required survey that measures the patient perspective of their hospitals experience. Here are four examples of the thirty-two-question survey.
1) During this hospital stay, how often did nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?
3) During this hospital stay, how often did the nurses explain things in a way you could understand?
6) During this hospital stay, how often did doctors listen carefully to you?
20) During this hospital stay, did you get information in writing about what symptoms or health problems to look out for after you left the hospital?
The Emergency Department of a hospital is a facility used to treat unplanned medical conditions. The Emergency Department has to be adaptable to accept the range of patients they treat on a daily basis. Many patients in the United States use the Emergency Department as their primary care because they don’t have insurance. Many patients are immediately treated and released but some patients wait for hours because other patients in the hospital require more immediate care.
The primary objective of this thesis centers around improving the experience of patients during their hospital visit in the Emergency Department (ED) by providing information to the patients and staff. The staff, including doctors, administration, maintenance, janitorial and more, would benefit from opening new lines of communication during their visit, and an easy way to plan an organized exit for the patient from the hospital. From the beginning of this research, there was a focus on three secondary objectives, including reducing patient pain, accurately assigning staff tasks, and staff workload reduction.
This project was centered around human needs. Initial research was guided by the desire to help as many people as possible by studying past and future medical design stories. Interviewing every level of staff at hospitals and the ED patients kept the project concentrated on human needs. Through those interviews and through observations, problems started to emerge about how people interact with each other in inefficient ways. Solutions to many of those questions were tested and tested again to come to a final solution: The ConnectED app.
The ConnectED app is an interface and hardware system that promotes collaboration and communication between patients and hospital staff. Because of emotions like fear and anxiety, patients can be reluctant to share information and ask the right questions. The ConnectED app helps guide patients through the information while reducing fear and anxiety and reduces the unnecessary time doctors and nurses spend with patients.
On the path towards completing this project, the ideas of morality and obligation as designers guided me towards a final solution that tries not to harm while adding the most to the patient experience. By finding and resolving problems in hospitals, we can take what might be the worst day of someone’s life and make it a positive experience.