Innovator Spotlight Q&A Series: Andrew Marshall, MD, MBI
The CIDH Innovator Spotlight is a Q&A series that celebrates innovative ideas, highlights the important work that digital health innovators are doing to advance patient care and outcomes at Mass General Hospital, and shares key learnings about the innovation journey.
We are pleased to feature Andrew Marshall, MD, MBI, Emergency Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Instructor, Harvard Medical School, for his work on improving the patient experience in the Emergency Department (ED). With his team, he executed a pilot of Digital Whiteboards to update patients on the status of their ED stay in an effort to improve patient engagement and address uncertainty and anxiety through digital communication.
Q: Tell us about your innovation and the challenges (s) you are trying to solve. Who are the people involved?
AM: One of the exciting things I’ve been able to work on since joining the faculty at Brigham and Women’s Hospital is centered around improving the patient experience in our Emergency Department (ED). This project started as a collaboration between the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub, E Ink Corporation, and the ED (https://formative.jmir.org/2021/8/e30862/).
We know that patients spend a lot of time in the Emergency Department ‘waiting.’ This might be waiting for lab results, imaging, or waiting to be taken to their hospital bed. During waiting times, patients will likely experience anxiety and uncertainty related to their care.
Working alongside my colleague Peter Chai MD, MS, we executed a pilot of Digital Whiteboards to update patients on the status of their ED stay. Our aim was to improve patient engagement and address uncertainty and anxiety through digital communication. We know from years of studies that when patients are better engaged in their care, they experience better outcomes. Clear and frequent communication in the ED creates higher satisfaction. Our pilot study showed promising results: patients that experienced the digital whiteboards had significantly higher satisfaction than those that did not (https://preprints.jmir.org/preprint/44725/accepted).
Our aim was to improve patient engagement and address uncertainty and anxiety through digital communication.”
Q: The innovation process can be long and challenging but also rewarding. What inspired you to begin this journey?
AM: For me, the idea of using technology to improve patient care started years ago when I left my job as a software engineer to go to medical school. On the one hand, I witnessed a medical system providing world-class care to my family and friends. On the other hand, it was easy to see that it often left patients feeling confused, lost, or disenfranchised. Years of working in the ED showed me that when faced with a health emergency, patients are receptive to any bit of information you can share that helps them get closer to the answers they need. After all, to provide truly patient-centered care, our patients need to share the fast-paced, information-intensive ED experience alongside their care team. It was during my fellowship that I began to explore the use of digital tools in the ED to facilitate effective communication and real-time updates for patients, and this project was a natural extension of those concepts.
Q: Where are you in the innovation cycle (i.e. early stage, commercialization)?
AM: We just completed our pilot. It’s great to have such positive results because there is a lot of enthusiasm at the moment for scaling this project and operationalizing it at a department or institutional level.
Q: What resources within Mass General Brigham have been most helpful to you?
AM: Implementing innovation takes a multidisciplinary approach, but I’d especially like to thank the Brigham Digital Innovation Hub, Office of the MGB CIO, and MGB eCare team for playing instrumental roles in developing the various pieces of technology needed to make this work.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to another innovator, what would it be?
AM: Find a good mentor and be a good mentor. It’s not always easy to build something new in such a big system. Find people who have done it before you so you can learn from their experience and overcome roadblocks. When the time comes, share your experience with other innovators. This is how you build a strong network for innovation.
CIDH would like to thank Dr. Marshall for participating in our Innovator Spotlight Series and sharing valuable information with our digital health community.
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