Interactive technology kiosks have the potential to provide healthcare professionals with reliable and valid daily feedback on the quality of the healthcare service their patients are experiencing, according to a study of their use at a Scottish hospital.

The finding comes from an evaluation by the Picker Institute, which specialises in patient surveys, and Intouch with Health. The study also found that the technology is feasible and robust as a method for large scale data capture.

However, the researchers say certain practical measures need to be in place to ensure the kiosks work to maximum benefit. These include having volunteers or staff acting as ‘hosts’ who show the patient to the screen, encourage them to use it and give help if requested, and also the need for a suitable physical ‘exit’ location for the screen that is secure, secluded and has online access.

The pilot survey, comparing touch screens with traditional paper means of gathering patients’ views, was carried out at the diabetes and orthopaedics clinics (both surgical and medical) of Lothian University Hospital, Edinburgh. Five methods of data capture were used with patients immediately after appointment with a healthcare professional, during a one week period:

  • paper questionnaires completed at clinic
  • paper questionnaires taken for completion at home
  • paper questionnaires mailed to patients for home completion
  • touch screen questionnaires completed at clinic
  • online questionnaire completed at home

Contrary to popular belief, the study suggests older patients are quite comfortable using the technology and all patients found the technology very easy to use in general. Patients were also generally happy to spend time after their appointment completing the questionnaire, although this may not remain the case if they are required to wait or queue in order to use the touch screen.

The researchers say that the ability to collect real time, instant feedback has wide ranging implications for measuring patient feedback and managing healthcare services. As a supplement to regular paper surveys the technology provides the opportunity to track performance against benchmarks and targets on an ongoing basis. It also provides the opportunity to give instant feedback to staff on performance, based on very recent, real life cases and examples.

Tim Markham, project manager at the Picker Institute says: “With the right conditions in place this technology can provide rapid feedback on patient opinion which has exciting potential for healthcare providers. The immediacy of the feedback could be particularly useful when testing the introduction or the efficiency of a new system or service.

“It is important to take advantage of emerging technology to help find new ways of collecting and analysing patient opinion if we are to continue improving the quality of patient experience across the health care sector. “