Could we ever build patients’ emotional states, needs and outcomes into management dashboards in healthcare?

I often hear from people working in patient experience trenches about their struggles to present data on experience. If we cannot quantify it, it will never be a priority. Ok, I’ll bite. But if we are going to measure something, lets measure the right thing and let’s make the data actionable.

I’ve been reading Hardwiring Flow which is a fantastic book about improving healthcare through process engineering. In the book, the authors discuss HyperActive Bob a customer prediction robot. McDonalds uses HyperActive Bob to determine how much food to make before customers have even ordered. Infrared cameras look at cars pulling into a drive through and can tell how large the car is and how many people are inside. More passengers? A screen tells cooks to make more fries. It’s all automatic.

So how could we develop and implement a HyperActive Bob in healthcare? Is there a way to measure how people feel when they walk into a clinic or hospital?

There’ve the sci-fi approach - what about cameras which track faces and attempt to guess mood? Turns out that technology exists.

We could use someone’s social graph - what do the sentiment of their twitter and Facebook feeds tell us?

What about the low tech solution - we could, at defined intervals and check points, ask patients to evaluate their emotional mood and needs using a standard scale. Dr Bridget Duffy presented this as a best practice, an always event at Experia’s customer experience round table event.

The real challenge is in getting the data. The thing that makes HyperActive Bob so compelling is its autonomy —no humans required. If a large car full of hungry kids pulls in, then the production screens tell cooks to fire more burgers.

I like this because it’s not a burden to either collect or act on the data. We often add more fields or screens to registration flows and our electronic medical records. Then getting to that data requires bowing to a database oracle and spending six hours in excel. Then it lags. And by the time we have a chart wth a trend line, does anyone even care any more; to say nothing of the burden we’ve put on staff and patients to collect the data.

No, instead we need HyperActive Bob. We need an automated way to sense when someone is in emotional distress and shift caregiving resources automatically. How great would it be to have a real time dashboard of patient experience - the mood, if you will, of everyone in the hospital? It’s not as far fetched as it sounds.

Having emotional state on a real time dashboard makes it available and actionable. Collecting the data in some innovative, automatic way makes it burden-less. Then, delivering compassion at the time of need is as easy as flipping burgers.