In the healthcare field, we often take the advent of new technology as part of the job. It seems there’s always a new device to help us with a complicated procedure or an app to improve on the previous app that came out last week.
Yes, there’s a new technology advent around every corner, and by this point, you are used to it. But are your patients?
This question could be asked across any healthcare discipline, but for those of us working in mental health, it has particular merit. After all, it’s easy to get caught up in our daily obligations and forget that our patients don’t interact with technology as frequently as we do, and while that brand-new app may only offer a few subtle changes over the previous one, to our patients who never experienced the initial app, it’s a whole new learning process.
Getting up-to-speed on new technology can be difficult for even the most tech-savvy clinician, and to help your patients keep up in this ever-changing market, we offer these suggestions.
- Factor ease of use into your decision. When you’re trying to determine what new technologies to bring into your practice, price and dependability have natural places in the discussion. But what about ease of use? Our latest advent, for example, lets patients check in with their fingerprint, increasing ease of use and protecting against fraud. When you’re searching for easy-to-use technologies, look for solutions that feature a user interface similar to those already employed in your practice — and appreciated by your patients. And if the system is new, look for models that explain what’s needed in real terms, not jargon. This will be better for your patients and your staff.
- What’s in it for them? Want your patients to tackle learning a new technology with gusto? Make sure they understand how it benefits them. A thorough conversation about the positives of any technology should preclude all introductions. Be sure patients have their questions answered as soon as possible. Show them the value and they’ll work to realize it.
- Take your time. Drop a new technology on your patients with no warning and it’s apt to stay on the floor … figuratively speaking. Some will be excited by the added empowerment new technology offers and others simply won’t. For those who are hesitant, devise ways in which they can learn the new technology a bit at a time. Be sure they understand that no matter their grievances, the new tech is coming and can’t be avoided.
- Personalize when possible. As we said above, it’s important patients know this new technology is coming no matter what. At the same time, it shouldn’t feel like an avalanche waiting to swallow them whole. Personalizing the technology for your patients is a great way to shift the balance of power and show patients that the tech is adjusting to them just as they are adjusting to it. From videos to text, dashboards and other messaging, the more a system can be personalized to a patient, the more they will take ownership of it.
- Engage the entire community. You know how daunting it can be to try and learn a new technology on your own, and the same is doubly true for your patients. To make the process easier for them, engage their wider community in the technology itself. Friends, family and caregivers are all prime targets to learn more about your patient’s technology — with the patient’s blessing, of course — so make this option known to the patient during your initial conversations about the upgrade. Many patients who don’t feel tech-savvy themselves have someone in their inner circle who is. Bringing that person into the fold ensures the technology has a greater chance of being used properly, and you and your patients will ultimately see improved results from its implementation.
Clinical Director October has been a Registered Nurse for over 15 years. She is board certified in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also graduated with bachelor and master degrees in Nursing from Western Governors University.