Even after authoring more than 800 blog posts, I observed that families left my office without online tools to research their child’s disease or condition. One strategy for Digital Health is to use one-to-many communication to curate health information, increase patient education and learning when families are searching online even prior to meeting in clinic or at the hospital. We also want to reduce redundancy in clinician work and education. The hope is to learn about increasing engagement and efficiency using patient-centered tools.
There is a need for a convenient tool that gives patients, families, relatives and friends information about the providers and care teams they’ll meet during visits, relevant education, care coordination and online educational links before, during, and after their appointment or hospital stay. This will facilitate deeper understanding about a child’s health condition. Thus began our first project, Virtual Handshake™.
Virtual Handshake™ launched in 2014 and provided patients and families information about the doctors & care team they’ll meet during visits, as well as education & tips to help before, during and after their appointment or hospital stay. Virtual Handshake™ welcomed patients and families with a personalized message, curated health information, text reminders, introductory videos from their doctor, tips from other parents, maps, and videos to help them navigate parking and the check-in process. With Virtual Handshake™, we began to share our commitment to patients and families even when we’re not together, in smarter ways.
- Introduce patients and families to care teams, provide relevant health information prior to visits. This includes online resources, video education, hand-outs, and text message patient reminders.
- Provide family members and caregivers the opportunity to create community around a child.
- Reduce redundancy in clinician and nurse work by providing education online before and after visits.
- Build comfort for providers using digital tools to communicate in the one-to-many format. Improve efficiency of face-to-face visits.
Duration of “Pilot”
2014 – April 2017
Virtual Handshake shared a platform with CareHub’s (development partner) primary product. There was a planned update to their overall platform, resulting in significant efforts and cost to migrate the site and data for continued use.
Clinic Locations Implemented/Use Case Tested
29 invited | 17 logged on|15 viewed videos
Of those invited, percentage of families who used VH:
100% Out of State
During the pilot, we learned about Guest Services and subsequently informed them when we registered pilot patients from out of state.
Rate exceeds national trends of portal technologies (quoted as 25% in 2014).
Of the families that never logged on, 85.7% cited they didn’t have time to use the tool.
- This tool supplemented provider’s teaching and helped families understand their child’s conditions better.
- Connecting with patients and families before their visit to meet their providers and obtain information from these experts does reduce pre-visit anxiety and better prepare them for the visit.
- Offered an educational delivery method more convenient for families.
- Improved connections between patient families and providers.
- Increased provider awareness, comfort and support of digital tools.
- Offering the tool to a family at the time of appointment scheduling is ideal.
- Department staff need a champion to drive family experience vision, agreement of workflow and content creation, need for RN assistance posting content and viewing data.
- Overlaps with patient portal need a champion to provide clarity of purpose.
- Text messaging reminders were not widely adopted, family invites were not heavily used.