How One Top Medical Center Is Creating a Unique Digital Hospital and Patient Experience

Author: Nader Mherabi, Chief Information Officer, Senior Vice President

Read Time: 4 minutes

Across the country, information technology and digital devices are transforming academic medical centers at an increasingly rapid rate. Digital health innovations have the potential to radically change the quality and safety of healthcare as well as improve the overall patient experience, but we need to ensure that the implementation of new technology isn’t happening just for the sake of using “high tech.”

New technology should allow for a more personal, convenient, and continuous experience for patients, patients’ families, and providers. However, introducing change can be especially daunting for healthcare organizations that are rooted in traditional processes and often operating on aging infrastructure and which must maintain uninterrupted high quality patient care. The challenge is how these organizations will transform themselves into digitally enabled institutions.

The shift from traditional to digital methods must be thoughtfully designed to seamlessly integrate with – even while simultaneously disrupting and inspiring – an organization’s culture. To accomplish this, the organization must first establish a foundation where technology helps drive an enhanced experience for everyone across the enterprise. In our case, NYU Langone Medical Center rolled out a range of IT capabilities, including an enterprise-wide electronic health record (EHR) system across all inpatient and outpatient offices. These support high quality clinical care while providing operational data that allow us to continually improve and remain agile as we explore new technologies and capabilities.

In preparation for the opening in 2018 of NYU Langone’s new, state-of-the-art, all private-room hospital, the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Pavilion, the Medical Center has invested over $400 million in the last seven years in a variety of IT initiatives and systems across the health system.

Many of these initiatives have already been implemented ahead of Kimmel Pavilion’s opening, marking the beginning of NYU Langone’s transformation into a truly digital hospital. By carefully timing the introduction of new technologies – rather than all at once when the hospital opens – the organization benefits more quickly from innovations; staff have time to adapt and initiatives can be thoroughly tested and adjusted as required.

When planning on such a large scale, it’s critical to gain an intimate understanding of the complex workflows involved, considering both the digital and non-digital needs of patients and caregivers, and how they will work together.

For instance, a patient’s experience with the Medical Center begins before she ever sets foot into one of our facilities, and continues after she physically leaves the building. Focusing on the entire patient journey, we have digitized many of the traditional in-person or paper activities involved, and have empowered patients with tools they need before, during, and after their visit:

· Patients can connect with the medical center online, at home and directly from their mobile device.

· Patients can use a personalized online portal to make appointments, fill out forms, and learn about what to expect upon their arrival.

· Patients complete their ‘paperwork’ digitally on tablets and are no longer presented with duplicative paperwork.

This improves not only patient experience but also institutional efficiency across the entire health system. Staff can spend more time interacting with patients because they’re not burdened by document scanning and data entry.

Additionally, we are in the process of bringing new technology to the caregivers working in our facilities. Soon, we will introduce a new iPhone-based tool that we are calling the ‘Clinical Mobile Companion’. More than 800 of these devices are being deployed to the entire hospital nursing staff so they can provide patient care without being tied to a nursing station. The Companions provides convenient and secure text messaging between providers, a live stream of telemetry monitoring for patient vitals, critical lab results, and real-time location service for medical devices, among other capabilities.

When the Kimmel Pavilion opens, we will use mobile robots to perform a variety of logistical functions, such as delivering linens and food, which will allow staff and care providers to spend more time with patients. The robots will also enable a distributed medication inventory, storage, and delivery system that is currently being designed.

The patient’s entire experience will be enhanced by digital services and systems that unify previously fragmented and time consuming tasks. The centerpiece of this is the innovative MyWall© system in the patient’s private room.

MyWall is an intuitive 75-inch tablet-controlled screen that allows patients and their families to receive the maximum possible benefit from their stay at the Medical Center, all from the bedside. Patients can use MyWall to:

· Get to know their care team

· Become educated about their condition and its management

· Call for assistance

· Communicate with friends and family via video and messaging abilities

· Adjust the climate and lighting of their room

· Order meals for themselves and guests

· Enjoy entertainment, gaming and video streaming services

· Personalize their space with images, preferred fonts, languages & other features

· Access to child-friendly content

· Other convenient hospitality services

Amidst the onrush of innovation, it is crucial to take the time to thoughtfully integrate new technologies to create a coherent digital and real-world experience and ensure that the new environment is in fact an improvement on the old. As we continue to digitize more and more of the patient and caregiver experience, every aspect must be considered in balance, from a clinical, patient and business perspective, ultimately leading to optimal healing and efficiency. Only by remaining aware of the subtleties and complexities of processes and people, can we ensure that new technologies are successful in making a difference.

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