Multimedia talking touchscreens, housed in kiosks at clinics and hospitals, are helping health care professionals enhance patient-centered care for patients with diverse language, literacy, and computer skills. The easy-to-use touchscreens read questionnaires, provide patient education material, and collect patient data. Each piece of text on the screen has sound attached to it, and users record answers by pressing buttons.

Developed as a tool to help end health disparities in underserved populations, the touchscreens are capable of talking in English and Spanish. More languages may be added in the future. The touchscreens provide more privacy and allow patients to complete questionnaires in their native language, at their own pace.

Currently, researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and clinicians at local health care centers are using the touchscreens with cancer patients as part of a Cancer Care Communication study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that information from a multimedia touchscreen can improve satisfaction with communication, knowledge, self-efficiency and adherence to treatment compared to information provided in standard booklets,” said Elizabeth Hahn, associate professor in the department of medical social sciences at Feinberg.

Hahn hopes that, in the future, every clinic waiting room will have talking touchscreen technology. After registering at the front desk, a patient could sit at the kiosk, complete questionnaires, access health information, and even feed their data into an electronic medical record.

“Imagine being able to have that information available, so that by the time patients get in to see their doctors, there would be a print-out with a quality of life score, a health literacy score, and self-identified needs for today’s visit,” Hahn said. “We have the technology to do it. That link of getting it to the electronic medical record is an area we are working on now.”

Source: Northwestern University