Discussion Prompt: Engaging Happy Valley's Patients
Imagine you are a member of a task force at Happy Valley Healthcare System that has been tasked with improving patient literacy by improving access and interaction through their patient portal. Some team members want to create smartphone apps and some want to create a website. What are some strategies or strengths that informatics could offer to this team to create a website or application that promotes patient access or interaction?
Purpose: In some cases, healthcare informatics projects focus on the patient as a customer. The traits of the patients are different than the user experience of the healthcare worker. The scene asks you about the considerations for a patient that you would include the design.
Criteria: The discussion response should be a complete paragraph, which includes a topic sentence (main idea), a body sentence (an example, a clarification, contextual or supporting detail), and a wrap-up sentence (next steps, recommended action). See Writing a Paragraph for clarification
Patient portal use and apps are great new tools for patient engagement. However, many consumers are at different ages and cognitive levels so it may be difficult for some to get the most out of their resources. To improve literacy, informaticists can help with including graphics or photos. This may be beneficial to those who are older and don’t have knowledge of current healthcare terminologies and practices. Informaticists can also assist with the layout and presentation of the website or app. We could design the layout to be simple and user-friendly for all kinds of patients, so it would be easy to use for all ages and levels of medical or technical knowledge. Another thing to consider is that not all patients speak the same language, so it will be beneficial to have a translation system and a real-time translator for those who need it to be able to engage with the content. The more accessible it is for a wider population, the better the health outcomes for the community.
Some strategies or strengths informatics could offer to this team would be helping to design and create the user interface. The user interface and how it is organized and the aesthetics play a large role in how information is accessed. Ease of use including the layout, and how it is interacted with could be designed and structured. A strength would be working with Data management teams to help create the code and formatting for how each item is accessed and what information it provides. As a patient myself and working with patients, the interface should be simple and easy to use for all age ranges. Possible translation options within the website or application is something an informatics department could help facilitate for patients. Process maps used in informatics could help align the different aspects that it will take for an informatics team to help make this transition a possibility. Informatics should also take into consideration the app or website working on multiple platforms and the design for each of these. Working with the information technology department closely, this can promote patient interaction and access with their providers and resources.
Strategies to create ease of access for patients to portals or apps start with making sure that a patient is able to understand and interpret the information that is presented in a meaningful and considerate format. When we created patient materials at our clinic, we factored in low reading levels, use simple pictures, and simplified layouts so that no matter what a person's reading level was, they would have the potential to make out the purpose of the material. To make sure that our vision was accurate, we trialed the drafts with our patients in real time, then used that information to continuously improve the layout, design, and content. Giving the patient some power in decision-making improved the outcome of the materials meant to help inform other patients just like them. It was a positive experience that improved communications bother internally and externally as other locations followed our processes to recreate their patient-facing materials as well.
The informatics team can help contribute to the apps and websites made to help improve patient interaction. The first thing to do is make sure there is a front page or an about section for the app and website so patients can get a better understanding of what they're using. Creating a login for security can help patients feel more at ease and more secure knowing they are using an application that protects their information. To get more people engaged, it is important to make sure things are well organized and easy to read to allow easy access and allow easy navigation through these apps and websites. Making things fast and easy to access will help patients get what they're looking for. These suggestions could help tremendously in increasing patient usage of these apps and websites, making it a convenient thing to use daily.
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