Based in the center of Silicon Valley, El Camino Health encompasses two not-for-profit acute care hospitals in Los Gatos and Mountain View, California, and urgent care, multi-specialty care and primary care locations across Santa Clara County.
The hospital’s identity with Silicon Valley’s innovative spirit and technology expertise started in 1971. In partnership with Lockheed, El Camino Hospital implemented the world’s first computer-aided medical information system (EMR), drawing visitors to their hospital from all over the world.
Continuing a steady pace of growth over the next decades, the hospital added an array of community need-based services, including an outpatient surgery center, family birthing center, emergency, radiology and intensive care facilities, a psychiatric unit, and senior resource center.
“We’re in the heart of Silicon Valley, so many of our patients are high-tech employees. Our mission is to transform healthcare within our community and deliver an experience that is designed around an individual’s needs. Healthcare is a market that is somewhat untapped and ready for disruption.”
Deb Muro, Chief Information Officer, El Camino Health
To achieve its goals, Muro and the Innovation Committee determined El Camino Health should implement an easy-to-use, next-generation mobile application that would increase patient engagement in a variety of ways while ensuring a seamless hospital visit. They envisioned a digital front door where consumers would have a one-stop resource for all of their healthcare needs. Unable to find an existing solution on the market to meet their requirements, Muro reached out to Google.
“We thought it would be a great fit. They are an important part of our community, and we take care of a lot of patients who work for Google,” said Muro. “Although we provide complex healthcare, we’re small enough that we’re very nimble. We expressed to Google that we would love to develop an application and try out a new technology.”
After a couple of brainstorms with El Camino Health to collaborate on a vision for the mobile application, Google accepted their challenge and confirmed they can optimize all the functionality and scale on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Next, Google introduced El Camino Health to SADA, the Google Cloud Global Partner of the Year for 2018 and 2019, to offer their expertise and help develop the application.
To design and architect a mobile application that could guide consumers through their healthcare journey, El Camino consulted with SADA’s application development team to deliver on their vision. Whether a patient wants to research information about a specific healthcare topic, schedule an in-office visit with a primary care physician for a diagnostic procedure, set up a virtual urgent care consultation, or schedule an immediate admittance into an Accident & Emergency Department, the application was designed to give its users a better way to manage their health and wellness.
“When someone opens the app, they are greeted with a simple phrase, ‘How can I help you?’ The app has a friendly and intuitive interface that resonates well with end users,” said Muro. “We built out journey maps and have just started to scratch the surface on predictive analytics in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the user and deliver specific, actionable information.”
Hospital visits are often nerve-wracking ordeals, but patient-centered technology helps ensure that customers have the best experience possible. Recognizing this, El Camino Health sought to include robust wayfinding features in the application. SADA incorporated comprehensive outdoor and indoor wayfinding capabilities based upon real-time data. The maps and GPS routing features utilize the end-user’s phone’s native map and help to streamline the patient’s hospital journey. In addition, the application caters to non-patient needs by enabling family members and visitors to use the application to better navigate the campus in order to find hospital amenities, the gift store, and food options – delivering a one-stop shop.
The application, built on Google Cloud Platform, also suggests the optimum parking facility as well as provides directions on how to get from vehicle to the waiting room. Integration with MyChart, El Camino’s secure patient portal, makes it easy for patients to access their health records and be more actively involved in their own care. Other features include the ability to pay bills and review instructions for specific medical procedures.
SADA also implemented single sign-on (SSO) through MyChart, created a Content Management System (CMS) for the application, and set up Google Analytics. In addition to custom app development, SADA is also providing El Camino Health with Managed Services, offering first-line support to ensure optimized performance.
Muro frequently reviews the application with her peers, including the CEO, COO, Chief Nurse Executive, Chief Medical Officer, and a patient advisory committee. Similar to an agile type of development process, Muro gets feedback and continues to build out functionality based upon what they have learned. Then she repeats the process so the technology is constantly evolving.
Since the initial release of the mobile application in January 2020, new downloads and active users continue to double each quarter. “When COVID happened, our CEO said, ‘We need virtual visits and we need it tomorrow. Can you implement it?’ and I said ‘Yes, we have already built that capability in our mobile app’ and we were able to activate it very, very quickly,” said Muro.
Not only are patients able to meet virtually with a healthcare professional from their home, physicians who were quarantined for 14 days appreciated the ability to continue conducting patient visits from their residences.
With the El Camino Health custom-built application, SADA has enabled the hospitals to:
- Increase patient engagement, as evidenced by the increasing number of downloads and active users
- Meet the needs of a tech-savvy customer base that expects better and easier ways to interact
- Provide patients with an easy way to engage in virtual visits within the app, a feature that proved to be especially beneficial during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Aid patients and visitors as they navigate the El Camino Health campuses, alleviating anxiety and potentially resulting in fewer missed or late appointments
- Improve the patient experience and empower patients to seek out the right care at the right moment
- Convey its dedication to patient satisfaction by implementing patient-centered technology