RateMyHospital may be just the beginning of a family of mobile technologies designed to streamline communications between providers and patients.

When it comes to patient ratings, hospitals are saddled with a difficult task. Achieving high patient satisfaction ratings is important in a number of contexts, especially when surveying patients’ perceptions of care for CMS’s Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems.

In the U.S., hospitals struggle to collect enough meaningful data to meet both CMS’ demands and their own internal objectives. After all, patients don’t have much of an incentive to fill out a form and mail it back weeks after their encounter with a hospital, and paying companies like Press Ganey to collect the requisite data isn’t cheap.

So it was intriguing to learn, at last week’s mHealth Summit, that one company seems to have simplified the patient satisfaction ratings process with a mobile tool that catches the patient in real time.

RateMyHospital, which has been adopted by six emergency departments in New York City within the Mount Sinai Health System, as well as two hospital EDs in New Jersey, collects patient satisfaction feedback through a web-based survey tool that patients access via their smart phones.

Not only does this approach collect data on the spot, it can help improve patient experiences while patients are still in the hospital. And unlike other patient satisfaction tools, it rates EMS performance as well as that of hospital staff and clinicians.

Once it collects data, the RMH executive dashboard displays real-time patient satisfaction and demographic data, which, according to the company, can support immediate service recovery, or efficient allocation of resources and even improved reimbursement. Getting all of this done is a tall order, but RMH’s technology may at least be a start.

Next-gen patient communities

While RateMyHospital seems to be a good idea, it may be just the beginning of a family of mobile technologies designed to streamline communications between providers and patients. After all, if you’re going to ask the patient how they feel about the experience of being in the ED, why not open other channels of communication as well?

Take the tool that was launched in April at HCA’s Hopewell, VA-based John Randolph Medical Center—which allows patients in emergency departments to give real-time feedback to staff, better understand their health conditions, and review their discharge instructions.

The tablet-based technology, delivered by Bioscape Digital, ER Express and GetInsured, also allows them to determine their eligibility for tax credits on the ACA exchange that will reduce the cost of the monthly premiums.

And over time, many hospitals and clinics may reach the level Mayo Clinic has achieved with its sophisticated iPad application for patients. The Clinic is using content- and app-loaded iPads to move the patient through their experience there more smoothly. Not only does the app tell patients what they can expect from their day, and gives them access to communicate with their providers, it allows patients to report on levels of pain or other indicators. This data is broadcast immediately to the healthcare team working on the patient’s case.

In the meantime, RHM seems to be attacking a crying need which can be addressed by mobile technology. While RHM is likely to attract lots of competitors, they’ve already made a good start.

Anne Zieger is a veteran journalist who’s been covering the U.S. healthcare scene for over 25 years. She provides “News with a Twist,” combining solid reporting with expert insights and analysis. Her opinions are her own. You can follow Anne on Twitter @annezieger.