Nav: Home

Emoji buttons gauge emergency department sentiments in real time

September 04, 2019

Simple button terminals - featuring "emoji" reflecting a range of emotions and sentiments -- stationed around emergency departments (EDs) are effective in monitoring doctor and patient sentiments in real time, a Penn Medicine study found. Traditionally, surveys are mailed or sent electronically to evaluate patient experiences, but response rates can be low and those that respond do so well after the visit. Using touch terminals could help inform immediate adjustments in the ED that would not just better serve patients but also the clinicians treating them. The findings of this trial were published Sept. 4 in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"This study begins to shed light on simple, fast ways of identifying trends and providing high-level information on how patients and providers are feeling in real time," said Anish Agarwal, MD, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at Penn Medicine. "We wanted to see if people would even notice these buttons, which they did -- and they pushed them a lot."

The terminals Agarwal and his fellow researchers used are similar to those used to gauge visitor satisfaction in sports arenas and airports. Each terminal features four buttons, ranging from very positive (green, with a happy face) to very negative (red, with a frowning face). They were established in three different locations in an urban ED to capture the sentiments of three specific groups: doctors, nurses, and patients. As such, one was set up near physician workstations, another at nurses' workstations, and the last at the patient exit.

During the five-month study period in 2018, nearly 14,000 sentiments were recorded across the three terminals, with roughly 68 percent coming from the provider-facing terminals. The nurses' station terminal recorded the most sentiments, accounting for 53 percent of those captured for the study but, across all three terminals, an average of 108 sentiments were recorded per day, numbers which were encouraging to the researchers.

"This work suggests that we can collect real-time provider and patient feedback that we haven't previously been able to identify," said the study's senior author, Raina Merchant, MD, the director of the Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health and an associate professor of Emergency Medicine. "This can allow for support when things are going well and addressing challenges when they occur."

Although primarily a feasibility study, the researchers did uncover some associations between the recorded sentiments and things like identity and patient volume. For instance, high satisfaction numbers were associated with the patient exit terminal, where positive responses outnumbered the negative each day by 25 percent, on average.

On the negative side of comments, doctor and nurse sentiments were moderately associated with a higher number of patients waiting to be seen, and strongly correlated with an increased number of patients being boarded in the ED. This, Agarwal believes, could be tied to capacity strains that limit providers' ability to see patients.

"I think our staff are happier when things are working smoothly, times where we can quickly treat people and keep things moving," Agarwal said.

Now with evidence that button terminals are used at a high level in the ED, Agarwal hopes to dive deeper on his findings with future work to determine why sentiment shifts happen and determine the best ways that they can be quickly responded to.

"Frictionless feedback is key in helping drive quality improvement in healthcare, and we need to explore more ways in which we can expand it," Agarwal said. "I would argue that the day-to-day frustrations -- and joy -- clinicians experience likely contributes to their long-term satisfaction or burnout. So we need to rethink how we engage with providers and patients."
-end-


University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Related Emergency Medicine Articles:

Academic emergency departments are always open to all who need care
''Academic emergency departments never deny emergency care to any person.'' That is the statement put forth in a commentary from the Board of Directors of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine and the Senior Editorial Board of Academic Emergency Medicine journal.
Why is appendicitis not always diagnosed in the emergency department?
A new study examines the factors associated with a potentially missed diagnosis of appendicitis in children and adults in the emergency department.
NUS Medicine researchers can reprogramme cells to original state for regenerative medicine
Scientists from NUS Medicine have found a way to induce totipotency in embryonic cells that have already matured into pluripotency.
The cost of waiting in emergency departments
Wait times in US emergency departments are increasing. A new study published in Economic Inquiry indicates that prolonging the wait time in the emergency department for a patient who arrives with a serious condition by 10 minutes will increase the hospital's cost to care for the patient by an average of 6%, and it will increase the cost to care for moderately severe cases by an average of 3%.
Emergency medicine: Department-based intensive care unit improves patient survival rates
A new Michigan Medicine study found that implementing a dedicated emergency medicine department-based intensive care unit improved patient survival rates and lowered inpatient intensive care unit (ICU) admissions.
Emergency room or doctor's office?
A new study in the journal Heliyon, published by Elsevier, examines the relationship between the way individuals perceive and respond to threats (threat sensitivity) and where they most frequently seek medical care.
Gender-based salary gap persists among academic emergency medicine physicians
Although overall salaries for emergency physicians have increased over the past four years, and despite a call to end gender disparities in salary, men still make 18 percent more than women, and a $12,000 gender salary gap remains essentially unchanged.
Study reveals complementary medicine use remains hidden to conventional medicine providers
Research reveals that 1 in 3 complementary medicine (CM) users do not disclose their CM use to their medical providers, posing significant direct and indirect risks of adverse effects and harm due to unsafe concurrent use of CM and conventional medicine use.
Study of traditional medicine finds high use in Sub-Saharan Africa despite modern medicine
Researchers who have undertaken the first systematic review of into the use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines (TCAM) in Sub-Saharan Africa found its use is significant and not just because of a lack of resources or access to 'conventional medicine'.
CU School of Medicine's Kenneth Tyler article in New England Journal of Medicine
Kenneth Tyler, M.D., the Louise Baum Endowed Chair in Neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, is author of a review article about acute viral encephalitis in the current issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
More Emergency Medicine News and Emergency Medicine Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.