Applications for healthcare continue to experience huge growth, positively accelerating recovery, reducing readmission rates and improving patient experience as a whole. With engagement apps, patients can access important health documentation, watch explainer videos and engage in healthcare questionnaires or surveys.
There are plenty of amazing healthcare apps out there that grant easy access to them on one platform — ideal for patients and staff alike. In fact, 77% of health IT leaders are investing in enhanced patient portals or mobile apps to improve patient and staff experiences.
So, how are patient engagement apps changing the face of patient care?
More Options for Entertainment and Connection
From TV, movies and games to newspapers, magazines and eBooks, patient entertainment apps, as a critical part of patient engagement, have a wide variety of content to keep patients amused and happy throughout their stay in hospital.
With apps like Skype, Messenger or Hangouts, patients can also see and speak to friends and family. The importance of this connection became particularly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when visitors couldn’t see family members in the hospital, and some hospitals began supplying iPads and phones for patients to help patients say goodbye to loved ones.
With these systems already in place through patient engagement apps, patients and staff no longer need to worry about being disconnected from their friends and family for long hospital stays.
One of the biggest benefits of implementing patient engagement apps is the reduction in cost for NHS Trusts. The annual cost of hospital food waste for the NHS is £230 million, equating to 39% of the total food budget.
With apps for meal ordering, NHS Trusts can know exactly which patient requires a meal and patients can make the order themselves instantly, leaving little room for the food wastage that occurs when an order is made and a patient is discharged.
As a critical part of patient engagement, entertainment apps, entertainment apps have also reduced the cost of physical magazines and newspapers. Having healthcare information easily available on an app means fewer physical resources, such as printed patient records, are necessary.
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Better Education for Patients
With engagement apps, patients can easily access a huge amount of resources in one place, including NHS choices, healthcare videos and literature.
In one recent study, randomised patients with knee pain used either an educational app with structured interactive content or nothing before attending a specialist clinic. The study found that the app improved disease-related knowledge by 52% and perceived knowledge by 22%.
These educational apps also help to make healthcare more efficient as any questions patients may have can be answered without staff intervention.
Full Visibility for Patients
Systems and apps like SPARK® Media can integrate with clinical solutions with PAS integration and/or HL7 integration, allowing clinicians to show their patients key health information.
Providing patients with this information allows them to better understand their health journey and the autonomy to make important decisions about their health. Supporting patients to be actively involved in their healthcare journey has proven to boost patient safety and satisfaction while making better use of hospital resources.
Staff can also use this system to access patient records and clinical systems, making the whole process smoother and more efficient.
Improved Patient Experience
Creating a better patient experience should be at the heart of every investment made by NHS Trusts.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of this is gaining patient feedback. While entertainment is critical in patient engagement, having a platform where they can actively give feedback on their care provision ensures patients feel their voices are heard, allowing them to feel involved in making improvements.
Apps that enable Trusts to gain feedback, including surveys and questionnaires, are therefore essential for patients, whose experience will be initially enhanced by the process, the staff who may also give feedback and the Trusts who require thoughtful, honest feedback from patients.
The Future of Patient Engagement Apps
At WiFi SPARK, we’re currently working on an Apps Catalogue, where there will be a collection of apps for specific needs, such as a bundle for dementia patients that Trusts can purchase for their dementia wards.
This example app bundle could include memory training games like Elevate or apps like Greymatters, which acts as a portable scrapbook with pictures and music to preserve memories.
WiFi SPARK’s Apps Catalogue will be split into three sections, these being:
- Free apps, such as those on the Play/App Store like Netflix and YouTube.
- Paid-for apps, which will be healthcare specific, including electronic meal ordering and electronic patient records (EPRs), selected from the wide net of 63,500 healthcare apps that are out there.
- WiFi SPARK’s own apps such as those found in SPARK MEDIA, including entertainment, meaning TV, radio, games, surveys, print.
Ultimately, patient engagement apps have shown to be a massive improvement on what is currently implemented on many NHS wards, from providing entertainment to patient information. As the technology develops, there’s no doubt these apps will change the face of patient care.
Make Patient Experience Your Number-One Priority
Find out the latest patient experience trends, including those mentioned in this blog, who’s responsible for making improvements and what to know for the future in our Patient Experience Guide. Download your free copy of the guide below.