How this Indian hospital bridged the communication gap during the pandemic

In the first of our new series showcasing the works of past HMA Awards winners, we take a look at how India’s Apollo Hospitals won the GOLD award for ‘Most Advanced Healthcare Technology’ with an innovative application that helped patients connect with their loved ones during the pandemic.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare providers around the world had little choice but to implement strict and stringent infection control measures, as they sought to minimise the risk of cross-infections at their respective facilities.

This led to many hospitals drastically reducing the number of visitors allowed on their premises, if not suspending in-person visits completely.

As a result, many patients – especially those with COVID-19 – were unable to rely on the support of their loved ones to tide them through the difficult period.

Recognising that this absence of support was detrimental to the condition of their patients, India’s Apollo Hospitals sought to come up with an innovative solution to bridge the communication gap.

“Frequent communication with a patient’s next of kin and family is a regular and vital part of normal hospital routine,” the hospital explained in their awards submission to HMA. “Typically, family is a part of the patient journey from the time of admission to discharge. It is also a part of the care process, of every doctor visit, every interaction. But this regular communication was challenged by the high volume of patients being cared for and infection control considerations during COVID pandemic.

“The lack of information, and the inability to communicate with family members became more disheartening…because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has made communication between care teams and families particularly challenging, leading hospitals to seek new ways to reach out to loved ones who often can’t be by a patient’s side.

“Having a means to communicate securely beyond the hospital walls was essential for reducing anxiety, increasing understanding, and creating a better healthcare experience. Illness and hospitalisation are situations that increase the need for assistance and education. Poor education and infrequent health updates are the most common source of patient complaints in the health sector.”

To solve this issue, Apollo hospitals developed a Patient Communication App, which allowed their patients to stay connected with their loved ones remotely.

“The Patient Communication App was designed with one goal in mind – to bring communication into areas of the hospital where visitors aren’t allowed, to keep family members connected, and make the hospital experience a little less scary for the patient and family,” the hospital explained.

“It’s free for family members and easy to load on their personal devices through a QR Code or link received after the registration.”

With a multidisciplinary team – comprising staff from the Medical, Operations, Quality, IT, Service Excellence and Nursing departments – helming the project, it took just 80 days for a prototype of the app to be developed. Fifteen days later, the hospital was able to officially launch the app for their patients.

The app proved to be extremely well received by their patients – the hospital saw a 32% improvement in their patient satisfaction score following the launch of the app, while there was an 80% reduction in the number of complaints related to communication.

The hospital concluded: “The Patient Communication App has provided our organisation with a secure way to update families in real time during patient stay at the hospitals.

“Families can stop worrying that they will miss an update from a care team member. Family members who cannot come to the hospital can stay updated. Care team members can send updates to patients’ family ones via text and interact through videos. Patients are also a lot less scared if they know their loved ones have information.”

 

Nominations for HMA Awards 2022 are now open! This year, awards will be handed out in seven categories, including Infection Control Excellence, Clinical Effectiveness Improvement, Most Advanced Healthcare Technology, and more. For more details, click here.

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