Facilitating better patient engagement at Tallaght University Hospital
Tallaght University Hospital is one of Ireland’s largest acute teaching hospitals, providing child-health, adult, psychiatric and age-related healthcare on one site. The Hospital is a provider of local, regional and national specialities. It is also a national urology centre, the second largest provider of dialysis services in the country and a regional orthopaedic trauma centre.
One of the two main teaching hospitals of Trinity College Dublin specialising in the training and professional development of staff in areas such as nursing, health and social care, emergency medicine and surgery, amongst many others. Tallaght University Hospital is part of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and Children’s Hospital Group which serves a population of over 1.2 million across seven counties.
Innovation is a key enabler in the provision of healthcare during demanding times. Tallaght University Hospital was keen to respond to the growth in access to smartphones and the increasing use of APP technologies for communication.
Research has shown:
- 74.7% of the Irish population has access to smartphone technology, this equates to 3.59 million devices in 2018
- Over 80% of browsing time on smartphones is through APP technologies and not through traditional web browsers
The Hospital recognised the opportunity to develop a communication channel as a trusted healthcare provider to engage efficiently and effectively with their patients and the public through partnering with Captive Health to build a custom APP.
Number of smartphone users in Ireland
Taking the lead in providing the first Patient Engagement APP of its type in Ireland brought a unique set of challenges that had to be addressed.
“Engaged patients are better patients, make better more informed choices and have better outcomes”
An acute hospital with a significant catchment area the Hospital’s broad range of services and supports across paediatric, adult and age related patient groups coupled with a diverse ethnic mix, barriers of language, education and socio economic considerations needed a blended approach to an APP provision and presentation of information and communications.
- Free to use
- Multi-platform availability
- Intuitive ease of use
- Plain English in-line with NALA guidelines
- Video content for engagement and accessibility
Connecting for Better Outcomes
- Provide health literature and information
- Make patient feedback more accessible
- Future proof a development platform on which to build
- Involve the patient in their healthcare decisions
- Greater understanding of their condition
- Knowledge of options and services available
- Improved information flows
- Facilitate the promotion of healthier behaviours through targeted campaigns
- Improved patient experience and satisfaction
- Informed patients know what to ask
- Reduced visit duration, increased efficiency
- Voice of the customer through feedback and survey
This phase of our Patient Engagement APP project focussed on delivering key information through an accessible platform for patients to assist the on-the-go access to services within the Hospital. This will also provide for ongoing development to meet the growing and changing informational needs of our patients throughout their care journey.
The initial phase includes:
- Wayfinding – Assisting patients find their service locations through maps and geo location. This will reduce missed appointments and confusion for patients and visitors.
- Service Information – Clear service directory highlighting the most frequently used Hospital services at the touch of a button.
- Patient Leaflets – Information leaflets from a trusted source of healthcare provision.
- Video – Utilising video content to aid and support information absorption. Video breaks down literacy barriers for our patients.
- News – Up to date Hospital news mirroring our other web and social platforms.
“No longer the beginning, middle and end of a solution as in days past. The App becomes an aid to conversation rather than a barrier.”
Underpinning patient engagement is the ongoing Hospital survey programme. Patients are surveyed by the Hospital Volunteers and the APP was identified as a means to support this programme and enable us to increase our levels of engagement.
There are a number of survey programmes underway at any given time which include:
- Patient Experience Survey
- Hand Hygiene Survey
- Inpatient Survey
- Outpatient Survey
- Atrium Survey
- Food Service/ Catering Survey
The APP enables our patients to access and complete surveys remotely and at a time where they can reflect on their care and provide quality insights through experience.
The increase in respondents will enable greater accuracy in interpreting results and assist in defining the hospitals strategic direction. In time we can direct specific surveys to target audiences providing us with a greater level of focus and targeting in our provision of care.
In APP survey and feedback:
- My Say – Feedback to capture and understand our patient’s experiences will enable and inform our strategic planning decisions.
- Rate This APP – Informs our development roadmap decisions on how we can improve our APP.
Review & Next Steps
Our Patient Engagement APP was launched at a special event on the 15th January 2018 attended by Tallaght Hospital Deputy CEO, Lucy Nugent, Group Director of Nursing & Midwifery of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group, Eileen Whelan, hospital clinicians and wider staff, representatives of the Meath Foundation, the Hospital’s Patient Community Advisory Council (PCAC) and hospital volunteers.
The APP has attracted significant publicity and interest from our patients, media and the general public. Through print, social and web media we achieved 682 downloads within the first month of go live. The APP is available for download on both the Android and Apple platforms.
App Download Stats 09.01.2018 - 07/02/2018
The app is the first of its kind within Ireland’s public hospitals. While Tallaght is taking the lead in Ireland, the Hospital was motivated by the success of similar apps in other healthcare systems such as the UK and US, where such apps are increasingly the norm.
Patient Engagement APP Launch Event 15/01/2018
Pictured left to right – Áine Lynch Director of Nursing Tallaght University Hospital, Catherine Heaney PCAC Chairperson, David Wall Director of ICT Tallaght University Hospital, Eileen Whelan Group Director of Nursing & Midwifery of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.
Commenting on the launch of the app, Director of ICT at Tallaght University Hospital, David Wall said, "
Health services in Ireland and across the world are only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of the full potential for mobile healthcare to help treat patients more effectively into the future. Today’s launch is a modest but important first step on this journey. We are eager to build on the app’s capability into the future and are already exploring how we do this."
Support for our APP is provided through a collaboration between the ICT, Patient Advocacy, Volunteer Services and Communications departments working together to ensure quality and appropriateness of content is delivered to our patient audience.
Patient Engagement APP Launch Event 15/01/2018
Pictured left to right – Vincent Coyne Tallaght Hospital Volunteer, Lucy Nugent Deputy CEO Tallaght University Hospital, Catherine Heaney PCAC Chairperson, David Wall Director of ICT Tallaght University Hospital.
In addition to the work undertaken by Tallaght University Hospital and its development partner Captive Health developing this app, the project was also supported by both the Meath Foundation, the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group and HSE.
Rate This APP patient response feedback has been very positive and survey engagement strong and continuing to grow.
Tallaght Hospital Patient Engagement APP Interface
Using feedback and through engagement with stakeholder groups from the community, the Hospital will identify a development roadmap to support our patient’s needs. There have been a number of further opportunities identified through our World Café workshops used to deliver the Hospitals eHealth strategy which could be addressed through mobile technology. Future Development opportunities include:
- In-building navigation through beacons and video
- Patient Care Pathways signposting information at every stage of a patients care journey
- Outpatient Appointment Booking
- Outpatient Appointment Check-in
For more information, contact Sarah Reade, Innovation & Project Delivery Manager, Tallaght University Hospital, sarah.reade @amnch.ie