One of the easier healthcare information technology systems to install is the patient kiosk, and the payback in terms of patient satisfaction, if not hard-dollar return on investment, is high, according to a recently released report on kiosks for the California HealthCare Foundation.
But there are possible drawbacks to the systems and there remains a potential for failure even for these bits of low-hanging fruit, according to the 28-page report, prepared for the foundation by two researchers from Computer Sciences Corp.
Hospitals justify the implementation of kiosks primarily as a patient service, not a cost-savings measure, the report said. Their efficacy and the success of implementation rises with the level that the kiosk is integrated with existing systems, the authors said. An appendix to the report lists 15 vendors of kiosk products, including applications by several well-known enterprise IT systems vendors such as McKesson Corp. and Epic Systems Corp., as well as from systems integrator IBM Corp.
Adoption is low so far, and the most-common usage for kiosks thus far is to help as a guide to patients entering the hospital to help find their way around. But there are a growing number of administrative and clinical deployments in outpatient and emergency departments, including using kiosks in patient registration, bill paying, updating insurance information, scheduling appointments, and, in the emergency department, for preliminary triage, the report said.
Adoption of kiosks will continue to increase until kiosks become a mainstream technology, the authors predict. They added, The physical design of kiosks has reached maturity and is not likely to change significantly, although their success has led hospitals to experiment with other self-serve technology. The report cites the use of a self-serve emergency department pharmacy vending system at 43-bed Owatonna (Minn.) Hospital, where patients can get their emergency prescriptions filled for several dozen of the most commonly used, acute-care drugs from a kiosk that is accessible 24 hours a day.