Thomas Jefferson, IBM Watson effort focuses on patient satisfaction

IBM Watson
Neil Gomes

Patient satisfaction continues to be a top priority for hospital executives, and one hospital hopes the technology can give it an even greater edge.

Philadelphia-based Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals this week announced plans to install speakers in 10 patient rooms by the end of the year that will connect to IBM Watson’s Internet of Things Platform. The technology will enable patients to get instant feedback to questions about their physician and the facility, and will also allow them to control some basic room settings, such as lights, temperature, blinds and entertainment.

Neil Gomes, vice president for technology innovation and consumer experience at Thomas Jefferson, told FierceHealthIT that his facility initially plans to roll the technology out in certain patients rooms, particularly where it could be a boon to service, such as for new mothers or for knee replacement patients.

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“If someone has just undergone a knee replacement or something like that, we can deploy it in those types of rooms where they’re not very mobile,” Gomes said. “Asking or finding out information for themselves might be an issue ... it would be a good service for them to interact with and schedule reminders, do those types of things.”

Gomes said such patients also might have more time and ability to provide feedback to help fine tune the technology.

Eventually, he said, Thomas Jefferson intends to use IBM’s Bluemix platform as a conduit for other services, such as the analysis of health-related data for diagnoses.

“We want to add more skills to this,” Gomes said.

An analysis published in March of more than 3,000 hospitals’ risk-adjusted records from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Hospital Compare site found a close association between higher patient experience scores and major clinical outcomes, such as readmission rates.

In July, Gary Kaplan, CEO of Seattle-based Virginia Mason Health System wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine that patient satisfaction efforts must start at the top with board members. Kaplan previously wrote that such efforts also must involve input from patients and their families.

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