The more clinicians engage with technology, the greater the benefit is for everyone involved, especially the clinicians themselves. When we capture more clinical documentation in a structured way, we can better examine, alert and respond to the data. We now use more electronic health record (EHR)-connected devices on the floor than ever. However, technology can occasionally be an obstacle for clinicians. Sometimes it’s clunky or confusing, and it can seem like it’s getting in the way of patient care. In order to overcome these challenges, Lexington Health Network has a few principles we follow to maintain clinician satisfaction and best leverage our technology.
First and foremost, we keep education personal and human when training for new or existing technology. We have EHR and technology registered nurse (RN) trainers rotating through our facilities every day. They do chart audits, proctor competencies, lead-in services and help every new hire to start their personal orientation to using technology in our space. They are out there coaching, answering questions, implementing new processes and cheering on each clinician. They rotate through shifts, so even the night crew gets some attention. Clinicians email their trainer, because the trainer either knows the answer or knows who to get involved if they don’t have an answer themselves. They are facilitators. If it isn’t by email, then they have the important hallway conversations with clinicians as they wander around. Having this personal connection and touch-base allows for hands on, personalized clinician training.
In addition, it’s important to make technology that’s been implemented better, not more complex. I think our roll-out of telehealth is a good example of this. When we first tried a mobile telehealth cart, it did not go well at first. We had some small successes with it, and as a proof of concept, we could see some great potential outcomes for our patients. Key word there potential. Our nurses resisted engaging with it. The cart was really big, like a giant robot. It wasn’t easy to use and was clunky and confusing.
We replaced the telehealth cart with a smaller one, this time scaled down to human proportions. Luckily, LexConnect telehealth runs on a tablet, which is a technology they are already familiar using. Now, starting a telehealth session is as simple as making a phone call. Because we’ve made this easier for our nurses, we’ve seen huge year-over-year increases in telehealth encounters. Lexington Health Network has had over 4,000 telehealth encounters since 2015. As we hoped, more telehealth encounters have led to better outcomes for patients. As of now, 92 percent of our patients in 2018 who had a telehealth session stayed in place and did not transfer to the hospital. Our nurses see the direct benefit to patients and families when they use telehealth technology, which allows them to see and take pride in their own successes. Additionally, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News called Lexington Health Network the 2017 Innovator of the Year for our use of telehealth. That’s directly related to our clinician engagement with the technology, and another reason they can be proud of their efforts.
You have probably heard of the idea that when you look good, you feel good. It’s the same idea with technology. Like all tools, technology needs to be maintained, regularly cleaned and occasionally refurbished or replaced. Technology tools can take a beating, and they often show it. It doesn’t matter if something is labeled as “medical grade”—if you rub it with enough sterilizing wipes it will start to look faded and worn. Replace it when it starts to look shabby. We spend lots of money to make our facilities look inviting. The lobbies, dining rooms, and patient rooms are painted and decorated to create an inviting place of comfort and caring. The tools and technology we introduce to these spaces should match this ambiance by staying clean and bright. Our clinicians recognize this kind of effort, and we think it sends the message that our organization cares about the tools we use. If we care about it, the clinicians often do too.
There are lots of great ways to drive clinical engagement and satisfaction. All of the strategies and initiatives are strengthened by keeping the human component a central part of technology deployment. Education and training should be human-centered and include one-on-one sessions; new iterations of technology should be human-scaled and always offer process improvements and the aesthetics of the tools our clinicians use should be appealing and inviting. These things encourage repeated engagement, improved satisfaction and ultimately increase staff retention and better patient outcomes.
To learn more about how your organization can improve clinician satisfaction, watch the webinar here.