Patients as Safeguards: Understanding the Information Needs of Hospitalized Patients (Washington)

Project Details - Ongoing

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Summary:

Patients and their caregivers experience significant challenges with accessing, managing, and communicating information about their care, which may lead to medical errors and adverse events. Typically, patients have limited access to information on their health status and care plan, while often expressing a desire for greater awareness of what is going on in relation to their care. Health information technology (IT) tools can be used to support patients’ and caregivers’ access to and engagement with meaningful information, allowing them to more effectively communicate with their health care team. These tools may facilitate a shared awareness and understanding of health status and safety risks among patients, caregivers, and medical providers.

This project will establish an understanding of the information needs of patients and their caregivers. This information will inform the development of design requirements for technical and non-technical tools that will allow hospitalized patients and caregivers to obtain and track the information needed to communicate their safety concerns to their providers. The specific aims of this project are to:

  • Identify information that would increase patients’ and their caregivers’ situational awareness as well as enable them to recognize potential safety concerns.
  • Identify opportunities to support inpatients and their caregivers in capturing and managing health information, concerns, questions, and customized care needs. 
  • Determine strategies to support active dialogue among patients, caregivers, and providers around safety-related concerns and the overall care experience. 

To achieve these aims, the project team will employ a three phase, 18-month design process involving hospitalized children and adults and their caregivers at two hospitals in Seattle, Washington. Phase I will be a needs assessment and include observations, qualitative interviews, and surveys to determine how patients make sense of their care plan, how they obtain and manage health information while hospitalized, and how they communicate their care needs to their medical team. Phase II will be an iterative participatory design process involving two rounds each of design workshops and rapid prototyping. This information will inform the development of an interactive electronic prototype. Phase III will test the prototype and assess further needs using technology probes. The prototype will be deployed to patients and caregivers who will use the system during their hospital stay, noting thoughts, ideas, barriers, and enablers related to the prototype.

The project will conclude with the development of: 1) a set of functional design requirements for technical and non-technical tools to support the information needs of hospitalized patients; 2) a set of prototypes that will help patients actively participate in their care and communicate safety concerns; and 3) a set of patient-derived priorities to inform ongoing local and national efforts in patient safety.

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