Sitting on her bed in sweatpants and a tank top, remote in hand, Ali Gratz looks like a typical 19-year-old watching television.
But thanks to two new features of the GetWellNetwork at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, when patients like Ali pick up their TV remotes, they’re actually being active participants in their health care—and helping themselves heal faster.
Late last year, two new programs were added to the GetWellNetwork, an in-room patient care system that works through the television, which give patients more control over their care.
“Both these features fit with the concept of patient- and family-centered care, which asks patients to be active in that care,” said Lauren Johnson, director of patient and family services at the children’s hospital. “We are trying to empower our patients.”
When a nurse changes a patient’s pain medication regimen, it activates a timer on the GetWellNetwork.
After a specified amount of time that depends in part on the form of medicine (pill, IV, etc.), the patient’s TV displays a message to the patient asking, “Your nurse gave you medication a while ago. Does your pain hurt more, hurt the same or hurt less now?”
When the patient clicks a response, the nurse caring for that patient receives a notification and can adjust his or her care accordingly.
“I had been here for about a day with possible appendicitis,” Ali said. “I was watching TV when the note popped up: ‘You were given a pain medication a half-hour ago.’ It was good, because I’d forgotten I’d taken it—this was a good reflection. My side still hurt, so I dinged, ‘Hurts the same’ and, 10 minutes later, a nurse came in to give me a different medication.”
“The reminder was super helpful,” she said.
In certain situations, when the patient responds that the medication has not alleviated pain, the GetWellNetwork will suggest non-pharmacological things the patient can do to help feel better immediately. For example, the network may suggest deep breathing techniques or scheduling a massage or aromatherapy session.
Ali was a children’s hospital patient before and after the new pain management feature went live, and she believes the addition of the feature made a difference to her care.
“It would have been helpful to just push a button and get a nurse to come with a new medication right away, rather than pushing the call button, waiting and then having to talk.”
Since November 2014, care providers have been able to assign educational videos on medical topics like NG-tubes, diabetes and PCC lines directly to patients’ TVs.
Nurses can decide when patients and families should access the videos; and are alerted when the patient and his or her family have viewed the video.
“Patients can access any of these videos at any time; but now, providers can put specific videos into order sets,” said Jason Albrecht, manager of patient and family services at the children’s hospital. “The nurse then releases it at the appropriate time—when the family is preparing for a Patient Learning Center appointment, or just has free time to sit down and watch it together.”
The videos will enhance, not replace, in-person patient education.
“The video is not the only way to teach—it gets patients prepared for effective, successful education time with their providers,” Albrecht said.
“Through the videos, patients can get comfortable with the words and terms used, so when engage in patient-education conversations with the nurse or provider, they are already somewhat familiar with the topic. They can ask good questions and follow the instructions much easier, because it’s already a little familiar,” Albrecht said.
University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital is the first in the country to design an interactive solution for patient education that uses the new Epic 2014 education capability.