William Osler – Patient activation through technology

Technology that empowers patients to actively manage their healthcare is absolutely essential for better health outcomes, according to senior figures at Ontario’s William Osler Health System.

In a joint presentation at the 2019 eHealth Conference in Toronto, Mary Jane McNally and Andrew Asa, told delegates that a central plank of its five-year strategic plan is technology investments that enable patients to shape and manage their health care journey by building knowledge, skills and confidence.

‘Technology can truly enhance responsiveness and provides more time for patient/provider communication and connection,’ delegates were told. The current focus is on technologies and partnerships that facilitate information exchange between patients and their care teams, enhances care quality and improves operational sustainability.  

William Osler has already made great strides in optimizing the referral, appointment and results process, with a combination of technology from partners Sunnybrook and Savience and in-house developments.

Kiosks for patients to check-in for appointments were quickly adopted and account for an average of 5,350 appointment check-ins a month or more than 80% of the total number of appointments. There are no queues at reception. Self-registration takes on average 70 seconds, whereas face-to-face registrations took between four and six minutes. The move has helped free-up staff time.

Sending appointment reminders has dramatically decreased the number of missed appointments or ‘no shows’. With a choice of voice, text or email reminders, patients are sent reminders 48 hours in advance, giving the hospital the opportunity to fill the appointment slot if needed.

The Savience technology currently employed, includes patient portal, mobile app, remote registration, appointment visibility, kiosks, wayfinding, and integration.

Patients have also welcomed the improvements, with a recent survey showing improved satisfaction and confidence. Seventy-five per cent said they were ‘very confident’ that they know what to do to take care of and manage their health.

The presenters emphasized that it is not about technology, but about improving the patient experience. Patients embrace technology as an enabler of exemplary quality of care. Technology truly enhances responsiveness and provides more time for patient/provider communication and connection.

The key lessons they said are:

  • One point of entry is key and critical for usability
  • Standardization as well as personalized approaches ensures evidence-based practice along with recognizing the unique needs, values and preferences of the patient
  • Patient activation and empowerment crosses all sectors and goes beyond engagement 
  • Building systems based on co-design between patients and providers creates a better product as well as enables partnership, shared decision making and better health outcomes.

Engaging Patients by Closing “The Loop” – Mary Jane McNally, chief patient experience officer and Andrew Asa, business project manager of William Osler Health System presented at e-Health Annual Conference and Tradeshow, 26-29 May 2019, Toronto.


Patient Activation – Goals and Objectives

Called “Patient activation”, the overall goal is to help patients to become confident enough to manage their health condition, navigate the health care system, and book appointments in the same way they would book airline, movie and theater tickets.

The main objectives are:

  • Improve patient satisfaction and confidence
  • Increase appointment attendance rates (reduce no shows)
  • Reduce patient registration queues
  • Optimize booking and registration processes.

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