Patient Engagement? There’s an App for That

November 1, 2013

by Theresa Jacobellis

Theresa-JacobellisAs the American healthcare sys­tem is reformed, greater emphasis is being placed on wellness and prevention. Savvy pro­viders are harnessing mobile tech­nology to empower patients to be more engaged in their own health­care, with the potential to improve treatment compliance, enhance outcomes, and even maximize re­imbursements by reducing readmis­sions.

Earlier this year, Boston Children’s Hospital rolled out MyPassport, a mobile application designed to im­prove patient satisfaction by pro­viding patients, along with their families, with accessible information about their hospital stay, plan of care, and post-discharge instructions.

Passport to better patient understanding

The journey to develop MyPassport began four years ago, when mem­bers of the hospital’s Diversity and Cultural Competency Council (DCCC) noticed that non-English-speaking patients reported lower levels of satisfaction than their English-speaking counterparts.

This observation led to the forma­tion of a research team consisting of urologist Hiep Nguyen, MD, emer­gency medicine attending Lois Lee, MD, and radiologist Valerie Ward, MD, who heads the DCCC. They were tasked with uncovering the rea­son for the discrepancy.

The team spent three years reviewing patient satisfaction surveys, con­ducting literature reviews, and using tracer methodology to follow patients from admission through discharge. They found that although the care rendered to English-speaking and non-English-speaking patients was identical, patients’ and families’ perceptions of their care varied.

“Many of our patients and families had a difficult time understanding what was happening in the hospital,” says Nguyen. “With many people involved in a patient’s care, and many tests ordered, often patients felt they didn’t know what was going on. And this was magnified in patients who did not speak English.”

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