From ear plugs to washroom speakers: Public asked to vote on N.S. health-care ideas – Halifax

From installing speakers in hospital bathrooms to booking group vaccination appointments, a list of suggestions intended to improve the province’s health-care system has been released by the Nova Scotia government — and the province is inviting the public to vote for their favourite ideas.

The process, known as the Healthcare Improvement Challenge, began in October and permitted health-care workers to submit “common sense ideas” with a focus on improving the system.

Further digitalizing the health-care experience, like setting up a text notification system to remind patients of their appointment date, time, and location, was one of several suggestions that looks to cut down on delays and backlog.

“Develop a registration app. Patients enter their information, and it generates a QR code,” read one of the 20 selected recommendations included in the list released by the provincial government. “Clerks scan this on arrival for their appointment. It would save time and remove data coding errors.”

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“Allow patients to pre-register online by sending them a link to fill out a form in advance of their surgery or specialist appointment. This will make intake for nurses working in clinics or pre-operative settings faster,” read another.

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Some ideas went a step beyond the medical process and pivoted toward improving comfort for hospital patients experiencing lengthier stays.

“Provide patients with ear plugs and single-use eye masks in areas where they are trying to rest, but there is external disruption,” read one suggestion, adding that this would be primarily for patients staying in emergency department hallways and intensive care units.

Other submissions included installing vending machines or food counters in emergency departments, allowing continuing care assistants to utilize their full scope of practice, and enabling caller ID so patients can see when the hospital calls.

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In a release from the provincial government on Wednesday, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston thanked all the health-care workers who contributed to the initiative.

“The number of ideas received shows there are many common-sense, low-cost, and easy-to-implement improvements that will make a difference in the lives of patients, families, and those working in healthcare,” he said in a statement.

More than 2,200 ideas were received over a month’s duration, according to the release. A review panel has since narrowed down the 20 most implementable ideas based on cost, accessibility, and the impact they would have on patient care and workflow.

Nova Scotian residents can vote for their three favourite ideas out of the current 20. The 10 most popular suggestions will then be deemed as “priorities” by the provincial government.

“The government will work with health-system partners to implement them, where feasible,” the release continued. “Even those that do not make the top 10 will be considered if they have potential.”

The public voting process wraps up on Jan. 8, 2024, with results expected by the end of the month.

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