How to Improve the Patient Experience: Utilizing Beacons

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | July 1, 2015 | Read Time: 3 mins

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Lately there has been a lot of talk about IoT (Internet of Things) and beacon technology, specifically how it will impact our mobile experiences. Although relatively new beacon technology is quickly expanding into almost every industry, including health care. Beacons combined with the right mobile apps offer hospital CIO’s an amazing opportunity to enhance the user experience through more efficient processes and improved patient-care. The only question now is how.

Many businesses across different industries have already started to take advantage of beacons and their corresponding apps to transform their wireless networks into interactive, contextually-aware mobile environments.

Retailers are using them to enhance the shopping experience—as a way to check stock levels, get product information, send out flash sales and make the checkout process faster.

Homeowners use them as well, using beacons to perform automated tasks, for example turning on the lights when someone walks in the room that has the right app on their smartphone or tablet.

The use of beacons is only in the beginning phase, but really it’s only a matter of time before places like major health care institutions adopt them.

To help you understand the potential this new technology offers, we’ve put together a few examples of how you could leverage beacon technology inside the health care wireless environment.

Using Beacons in Health Care

The patient experience is critical to any health care institutions success. However, health care does have its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to wireless technology. From network security, securing patient-data, BYOD and guest access to Wi-Fi performance and its reliability, Wi-Fi networks have always challenged hospital CIO’s in many ways.

With so many mission critical systems operating in such a dense, physically demanding environment, it’s always been difficult to offer patients, staff and guests with a robust mobile experience. Beacons now offer the possibility of offering a new solution to the user experience challenge without creating more problems for you hospital wireless network.

Imagine being able to offer patients the right registration information right on their own mobile device as soon as they enter a registration area; with location-aware beacons and apps, you can.

The problem right now is that each unit inside a hospital works a little differently, with its own set of specific guidelines and procedures. These different rules and tasks can be very confusing, and time-consuming for both the patient and hospital staff. By utilizing beacons in this scenario, you are gaining several benefits that include:

  • Patients would get the correct information/registration they need on their own mobile device upon entering a registration area.
  • By using BYOD, you avoid costs of owning and keeping up hospital owned devices.
  • You can provide information to patients, like maps of the hospital and routes, estimated wait times and other pertinent hospital data.
  • You increase patient satisfaction with the comfort and familiarity of using their own devices

Future Possibilities

Of course, this is only the beginning. In the future beacons and their combined apps might have the ability:

  • For the ER to have patient records the minute they enter the hospital
  • Allow doctors to use their own devices to immediately have access to a patient’s medical history which could be an incredibly valuable tool in emergency situations or major traumas.

The possibilities with beacons and location-aware devices or applications are almost endless.

Patient Management

For many, the health care experience extends beyond their visit or stay. Post-care can entail medication, instructions and treatment plans. When a patient leaves the hospital location, beacons could know that the patient is leaving and trigger a message providing the patient with all kinds of valuable information such as:

  • The nearest location to find medications or care products
  • Partnering with retail locations or pharmaceuticals, offer coupons to purchase medications
  • The ability to have purchase and ship prescriptions and medications sent straight to the patient’s home right from the app.
  • Beacons could also send doctor’s notes and after-care instructions, so they are readily available to the patient, again right inside the app.

Although beacon technology is in its early stages, the potential to further streamline the health care industry is incredible. They can assist in admissions, smooth the ER process and make things after discharge easier and more cohesive.

It empowers patients, increases the hospitals productivity and point-of-care effectiveness while lowering operational costs. With little changes needed in most cases to your current wireless infrastructure, beacons are poised to take health care and the patient experience to new levels.

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