For a patient, a room in a health-care facility is more than four walls, a bed and some equipment.
It is a place where they hear the good and bad news, a place where they see friends and family, a place of healing and care. But in many health-care facilities, patient rooms are not up to the job.
Enhancing patient rooms with technology such as HD TVs, remote patient monitoring, networked medical equipment, telehealth capabilities and sound masking improve health outcomes by increasing efficiency, reducing errors and giving patients ownership over their treatment and care.
Improving Patient Rooms With Technology
The physical environment is a major contributor to mental and physical wellbeing.
Ideally, patient rooms support the needs and comfort of patients, medical staff and family members and visitors.
Here are some AV technologies that can improve the comfort, functionality, and efficiency of patient rooms, thus enhancing wellness outcomes:
- Remote patient monitoring. Many health-care facilities employ staff to visually check on patients, particularly those who present fall risks. This monitoring, however, can be provided just as effectively and for less money using remote video monitoring. One study found that improving the design and monitoring capabilities in patient rooms reduced falls by up to 17.3 percent. Cameras installed in patient rooms transmit video and audio to a centralized observation station where trained staff can observe patients and intervene when needed. The cameras can be turned off during sensitive care routines and don’t record, eliminating privacy concerns.
- Telehealth capabilities. In time-sensitive, life-threatening circumstances, patients and caregivers can’t afford to wait for specialists to travel or to risk communicating with remote providers in a way that might promote miscommunication or misunderstanding. Rooms equipped with video conferencing endpoints, high definition cameras and high-resolution screens allow remote specialists to clearly see and hear patients and on-site providers and make accurate diagnoses. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are another critical component of both on-site and telehealth care. An integrated EHR means the doctor in the patient room and the specialist across the country can see the same information at the same time. Seventy-five percent of providers report that EHRs allow them to deliver better patient care. And 63 percent of patients reported fewer medication errors when providers used an EHR.
- Integrated medical devices. Integrated medical devices, such as USB stethoscopes and wearable vitals monitors, capture critical health data and automatically record it in a centralized data collection system such as an EHR. For example, at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, the EHR was integrated with 700 medical devices including patient monitors, ventilators and glucose monitors, among others. As a result of the integration, Wexner reported an 81 percent decrease in the time required to take a set of vitals. In addition, only 4 percent of patients had to wait more than two hours for their vitals to be verified by a physician.
- Patient comfort and control. A lack of control over their physical environment can be a contributor to anxiety in patients, which negatively impacts patient outcomes. Systems that allow patients to control things like bed position, room temperature, TV station and volume and lighting give patients a sense of control and the ability to adjust their physical environment in a way that supports their wellness and recovery. IP video solutions and interactive displays deliver entertainment as well as helping patients access practical information. Patients can also use these types of video solutions to make requests, such as ordering a meal, without waiting for a staff member to be available. The right mounting solutions for medical equipment and displays, such as those that keep the TV flush with the wall and keep it out of the way of people and equipment, further increase the comfort and functionality of patient rooms.
- Sound masking. Patient privacy is of paramount importance but sensitive conversations between providers and patients can be heard by passersby, even accidentally, in rooms that are not appropriately soundproofed. A high noise level in a patient room can also disrupt a patient’s rest, leading to increased stress and reduced outcomes. It can also make it difficult to hear and understand the information being communicated verbally by doctors, nurses and other care providers. According to one study, rooms without acoustic modifications increased speech discrimination, a.k.a. not understanding what is being said by 46 percent.
Physical Environment Impacts Patient Wellness
The physical care patients receive from medical professionals is only one piece of the puzzle of their recovery and wellness. The quality of a patient’s physical space — including the quality of the technology available — is also a significant contributor to positive patient outcomes.