Apple aims to get an iPad in the hands of every hospital patient

Apple has made great strides in health in the last few years
and if it gets its way, there will be an iPad in the hands of
every hospital patient.

It’s already started with a smattering of hospitals around the
U.S. including Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego,
MetroSouth Medical Center in Chicago and about a year ago at
Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

Earlier this week, I went down to L.A. to take a tour of
Cedars-Sinai‘s pilot
program allowing patients direct access to their vitals, care
team and educational tools through iPads.

Doctors are already adept at using mobile devices and many have
been using iPads in their practices for
a number of years now
, but allowing patient’s access to
their own information is still a novel idea in the medical
world. Cedars has been somewhat ahead of the curve with the
creation of its EHR software My CS-Link, which allows
patients to look up their information online, including notes
from their doctor.

However, without the iPad, doctors and nurses have to follow a
paper trail and then write up duplicate information on a white
board often found on the back wall in the patient’s room.
Mistakes can happen and, as Cedars-Sinai doctor Shaun Miller
told me, the staff often run out of room to write, leading to
confusion or a lack of information for the patient.

Cedars uses Epic’s MyChart software to record vitals and other
info on roughly 50 iPads in its heart failure unit where
patients often have to stay for an extended period of time. One
patient, 32-year-old Awad Lsallum, traveled all the way from
Saudi Arabia in hopes of receiving a new heart. To be honest
Lsallum did not seem that impressed with the device. He’d
already been at Cedars for a total of 40 days and said he gave
the iPad back after a while. But he did say it was
“comforting” to have the iPad so he “knows what’s going on.”

The program also benefits the care team. Michelle Williams, a
registered nurse at Cedars told TechCrunch the program made it
easier for nurses. The nursing staff often get stuck with
duplicate work requiring both educating patients on care and
checking to see if they have all the necessary information.
However, the program offers educational videos on the iPad and
a handy way for patients to see all their information at the
same time.

In another section of the hospital, new parents are utilizing
unmodified iPads to FaceTime with their newborns who may be
sick or premature. These babies need to be kept isolated from
the outside world and the germs that come with it so new
parents aren’t usually able to see their baby for a few days
after they are born. But, with what the nurses refer to as
BabyTime (FaceTime for babies), parents can interact virtually
with their little one while they wait.

Other hospitals, including those mentioned above, have embraced
Apple’s tools as well. The trick now is to place these devices
into the patient’s hands — something both Apple and
Cedars-Sinai seem to be trying to do.

Of course, these devices come with a few security headaches —
even more so when you open up the information to patients. But
despite the worries, Miller welcomes the new technology.

A year in and he says “It’s a lot easier now to communicate,”
adding the next step would be “opening up API’s and adding data
standards so [the information] is accurate.”

Featured Image: Boston Globe / Contributor/Getty Images

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