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Kiosk Lets Patients Give Feedback On Doctor Visits

Patients can use 'Wellby,' an ATM-like machine with a touchscreen, to answer survey questions and give feedback about a just-completed doctor's visit.

Nicole Lewis

February 14, 2012

4 Min Read

9 Cool Digital Health Products

9 Cool Digital Health Products

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CarePartners Plus LLC has introduced a kiosk that lets patients give feedback on their doctor's visit after they've completed an examination and just before they leave the office. The technology seeks to address the growing need for more actionable patient information as doctors develop new ways to capture data that will help them improve clinical outcomes.

To build the machine, CarePartners Plus, an independent third-party data and information company based in Philadelphia, Pa., turned to IBM to develop Wellby, an interactive healthcare management kiosk that will collect information and provide feedback from patients at the point of care. CarePartners Plus will target health plan providers and large integrated delivery networks, which will encourage their members to place the kiosk where they deliver care, including physician offices, hospitals, work sites, and retail pharmacies.

"This technology is all about closing the gaps in care between patients and their physicians," Marty Minnit, product development chief at Care PartnersPlus, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "The patient acts like a consumer putting information in the kiosk about the visit which the physician can use to help treat the patient, so it's all about patient engagement and providing a higher quality of care."

[The healthcare industry is ramping up its attempts to get patients involved. See Is 2012 The Year Of Online Patients? ]

Patients can answer questions with a Yes, No, or Not Sure option via touch screen technology. The data collected provides insight into a provider's communication with its patients, and compliance with standards of care, and can reveal patients' understanding of the goals of their care plan and overall patient satisfaction. The information also can be used as supporting documentation toward reimbursements for patient-centered medical home and Accountable Care Organization care offerings.

"Kiosks are increasingly being used in healthcare settings for patient check-in and check-out or for collecting information on a patient's experience through surveys like the one Wellby provides," Lynne Dunbrack, IDC Health Insights' program director covering connected health IT, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "Patient satisfaction surveys conducted after the visit and just before the patient leaves the physician's office will help physicians identify opportunities for improvement when it comes to the patient experience."

Dunbrack also said that although many people have responded favorably to kiosks because they are familiar with using these machines to check in for their flight at the airport or to conduct a variety of financial transactions through an ATM, there are challenges with using a kiosk in a healthcare setting.

"Some patients may not be comfortable with using kiosk technology in healthcare. They worry about the privacy of their health information when it's in electronic form or they are phobic about germs," Dunbrack said.

Nevertheless, Minnit believes the technology will gain traction and can provide a meaningful contribution to healthcare particularly because the Wellby system asks questions based on quality-care standards and performance measures that are part of the Accountable Care Organization model, as well as patient-centered medical home standards and the quality improvement standards from the National Quality Forum.

Minnit said the kiosk also will benefit the growing population of chronically ill patients that need a greater degree of healthcare monitoring. "If a patient is a diabetic, for example, there's a section they'll fill out which will ask: Did your doctor examine your feet? Did your doctor speak to you about your blood sugar? Did your doctor talk to you about a plan for daily exercise? If it's a monthly visit, did you for the majority of the month have difficulty managing your diabetes?" Minnit said.

"Oftentimes what a patient says in a room with a doctor will be different from what they input into a kiosk. Based on the answers, physicians will have a better understanding of those patients who are not able to manage their care."

"Primary care physicians are increasingly focused on providing more patient-centered care and ensuring patients with chronic illness such as asthma or diabetes are getting the care they need and taking a role in managing their own care," Dr. Paul Grundy, director of healthcare transformation at IBM, said in a statement. "By creating meaningful interactions with patients, and through the continuous reporting and analysis of data on the effectiveness of care, Wellby provides an effective tool to teach patients important skills and support physicians in their mission to keep patients well."

Healthcare providers must collect all sorts of performance data to meet emerging standards. The new Pay For Performance issue of InformationWeek Healthcare delves into the huge task ahead. Also in this issue: Why personal health records have flopped. (Free registration required.)

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