App and In-Room Technology Level Up Patient Experience at Cook Children’s
Family friendly tech features integrated into every inpatient room at Cook Children’s Medical Center - Prosper keep children and families in control of their hospital experience and make their health care journey easier.
By Ashley Antle
Hospitals can be complex to navigate, especially for the health care novice, but family friendly tech features integrated into every inpatient room at Cook Children’s Medical Center - Prosper keep children and families in control of their hospital experience and make their health care journey easier.
While these rooms appear much like any hospital room, the technology that powers them puts everything the patient may need or want during their stay right at their fingertips, from access to their health information to conducting a telemedicine visit with a specialist to ordering food and selecting in-house entertainment. And it can all be viewed and operated from the patient or family’s own smart device through an easy-to-use app, or from the television in each patient room.
When designing patient rooms for the Prosper facility, which opened in January, Cook Children’s wanted to match the innovation that patients and families experience at every turn throughout the facility, from the life-size digital display in the front atrium to the operating rooms equipped with technology that allows real-time remote viewing and physician collaboration. The teams designing the rooms, particularly the technology behind them, conducted extensive research and asked patients and families for feedback on what tools would make their stay easier.
“The majority of ideas we heard centered around empowering patients and their families to have more control of their stay and experience, having clear and concise communication and a better understanding of who was a part of their child’s care team,” said Nicole Yowell, digital products manager for the inpatient experience and leader of Cook Children’s Virtual Health program.
All of these features and many more were built into an app for patients and families that puts control of their experience right in the palm of their own hands.
When families download the app during their hospital stay, they can view and interact with much of the behind-the-scenes workflow involved in their child’s care. If, for example, the patient is awaiting lab results, families can view those results in the app once they are posted in their child’s electronic medical record. They no longer have to rely solely on a nurse or other provider to update them, giving waiting families better access to their information.
“The goal is really to bring visibility, from a patient and family experience perspective to everything that the staff is doing,” said Danika Meyer, product owner for patient experience at Cook Children’s. “So when we think about our clinical strategies for informing patients along the way, a lot of that is dependent on interactions with our care team, which is a huge part of what we do. We didn’t necessarily want to take any of that away, but more so compliment it with the technology already available to us so that families aren’t kept waiting longer than necessary and our clinicians are better supported to focus on patient care.”
Features like an in-app TV remote, food service link and much more allow patients to access creature comforts when and how they want them for a customized, individualized experience.
“A lot of times in health care, if not all the time, everybody's thinking in terms of outcomes like an illness has been cured or a wound has been healed, and a lot of the softer side of things is overlooked,” said Lesley Wager, director of digital products at Cook Children’s. “But our outcomes are also about the experience and the journey, right? The stuff that parents and kids are going through is scary, and while a little bit of a delight feature that we add in any of these rooms or in our apps might not change the fact that their bone was mended. It does help the general overall outcome for their mental health and their emotional wellbeing. That's incredibly important to us.”
In addition to the app, the communication portals in each patient room are fully digitized and populated with information in real-time.
Traditionally, in-room whiteboards are used to communicate information about the patient’s care team and daily schedule. They have to be updated manually by a nurse or patient care technician using a dry-erase marker.
The new generation of whiteboards at Cook Children’s - Prosper are both digital and interactive. In addition to information on the patient’s care team, they display mobility and pain scores, educational assignments and completion, meal times, food offerings, room temperature control, interactive requests for assistance and hospital information sharing.
Outside of each room, digital door signs use icons to communicate important patient alerts such as fall precautions and isolation procedures to the patient’s care team, family and visitors so they can take the appropriate safeguards before entering a room.
“The patient-centered room is the digital room of the future, allowing patients and families to interact seamlessly with technology through the digital whiteboard in the room for patient care information as well as the ability to watch TV, stream movies and play games,” said Gina Basham, Cook Children’s assistant vice president, Inpatient Clinical Apps. “In the future, we hope to expand these in-room technologies to include patient schedules and further interaction with MyChart beyond just the mobile app. Incorporating these features is in keeping with our commitment to do everything for the child.”
Collaborate and Communicate
Integration between multiple tech platforms, and collaboration among several health system departments and tech vendors, help make the app and other patient communication tools the seamless supporting players for the care and comfort of patients that they are. All of these innovations talk to and inform each other.
“We had to do a multi-level integration across multiple technologies so that when something happened in one, it triggered a workflow in another,” Yowell explained.
For example, when a nurse is assigned to a patient in the electronic medical record, that information also flows to the nurse call system as well as the in-room digital whiteboard and the patient’s TV. This eliminates the need for nurses to write on the whiteboard who they are at each shift change, so the patient is informed about who is caring for them before they even enter their room.
These tools help Cook Children’s communicate with and care for a tech-savvy generation in the way they prefer to consume information. But, should a patient not have access to a personal device or care not to use one, there are multiple ways to communicate and access the information and features offered in the app.
Telemedicine appointments with specialists can also be streamed on the TVs in patient rooms, giving patients access to specialists all across Cook Children’s Health Care System. When a middle-of-the-night consult is needed, these features allow physicians to conduct a telemedicine visit from their home. Eliminating the need for a physician to make a late-night trip to the hospital when it isn’t necessary gives patients quicker access to care and saves the physician time, energy and sleep for their next busy workday.
After Your Stay
Use of the app isn’t limited to the inpatient stay. After a patient gets home, access to the app remains available to inform and empower them in the next phase of their health journey. Parents can view their child’s discharge instructions, medication list, information about their care team and follow-up care, for example, and have this information at their fingertips to share with their child’s primary care physician, who may or may not be a Cook Children’s doctor.
When patients are empowered with tools and information that make their lives easier, they’re more engaged with their care and more confident in their health journey, all of which health tech experts say lead to better overall outcomes.
“At Cook Children's, we talk about creating moments of magic and this definitely brings some magic to the experience for the patient and their family,” Yowell said. “It really is based on improving outcomes for their physical health and mental and emotional wellbeing by providing them the information that they need to make educated decisions and really understand what's going on in their care, along with giving them some delight features that make their time with us more comfortable.”