I saw an article today summarizing research that found that delayed physician rounding increases postpartum women’s satisfaction with their hospital experience and patient-physician communication. And I for one totally understand this having once been a postpartum woman (and not particularly a happy one when I was woken up early despite trying to cling to every last second of sleep I could find).

The point of the article is a great one – and one that is increasingly being made within healthcare research: patients don’t like being (totally) at the mercy of ‘the system.’ And the patient voice is getting louder and stronger.

So back to the topic of rounding, that typically once a day meeting between the doctor (or team of doctors) and the patient. Over time, patients have come to expect that this interaction is 1. Something they will never have any control over and 2. Is likely to happen at the most inopportune moment possible. Ever been in the hospital either as the adult child of the patient or as the parent of the pediatric patient? In either case, you might spend hours sitting at the bedside wanting to ask the doctor a burning question about a meds change, lab results or discharge timing – and the minute you think, I really need to get coffee/find food/move the car/use the bathroom – just know that your patient will be seen as soon as you leave the floor.

Beyond understanding that patients want more control over their hospital experience, hospitals are starting to invest in technology to measure what matters in order to understand the detractors of satisfaction. But what about technology that can also help make or suggest the changes that will enhance a patient’s satisfaction? Take our Assign solution as one example. This technology was created to mitigate the pain that many provider teams feel around the process of making daily patient assignments. This tends to be manual and often random in nature (beyond preserving continuity in assignment within an admission). So in other words, doctors must take the time to create the patient lists, but they don’t truly have enough time to gather all of the data available to make the best assignment.

For groups that invest in Assign, the above process becomes standardized and automated. And this means that data is available that can be reported against, yielding insight that can be leveraged for its predictive capabilities. What do I mean by this? Well, Assign’s logic creates optimized rounding lists that are also appropriately load balanced. Acuity can also factor in here and over time, patterns emerge around encounter visit length for each level of care. Imagine I am #7 on the list and given the 6 other patients ahead of me, and their acuity levels, the team anticipates seeing my at 11:00. Wouldn’t it be great to get a text or message with that ETA? And if it has to be earlier or later, another simple update relays that change.

At the end of the day patients are consumers – consumers who can drive from home to work with real-time knowledge of traffic issues, check in to hotels from the plane, make ANY reservation from their phone and so forth. We are essentially impatient. Hospitals that can operate like businesses that are laser focused on retaining their customers and getting better word of mouth/referral business will invest in the technology solutions that can deliver every aspect of satisfaction, not just those focused on the clinical care. If I’m admitted, I don’t want to acquire an infection, but I also don’t want my door opened and closed 12 times overnight, can’t stand beeping pumps, and shouldn’t have to wear fleece in the summer. It all matters.