The new program allows patients to view detailed information about their own medical care and hospital stay, make a variety of non-urgent requests and access entertainment apps and the Internet.

West Chester Hospital launches bedside tablet program for patients

The My UC Health Bedside tablet program was distributed at the hospital today via 145 Samsung tablet computers, letting patients navigate the Epic MyChart Bedside system.

That system allows them to monitor vital signs and lab results, access educational materials about various health topics specific to their diagnosis and learn more about their care team.

In addition, patients may make non-urgent requests for items such as water, ice chips, snacks and room cleaning, add appointments and events to a personal calendar, use various entertainment applications and access the Internet.

West Chester Hospital is one of only 15 hospitals nationwide to implement a program of this kind, according to Patrick Baker, UC Health-West Chester Hospital’s vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer, who led the tablet initiative.

“The goal is enhance the patient experience and to empower the patients and families with their information regarding their medical condition (and) to be more transparent with our patients and medical staff so we’re all on the same page,” Baker said. “The families and patient understand what the plan of care is.”

When a West Chester Hospital patient is discharged, all medical data recorded and accessed via the tablet will be available via My UC Health for secure, online viewing by the patient and the patient’s doctor, Baker said.

“We actually had a dad in here using the (Skype) feature,” he said. “He said ‘I always read my child a book at night … so he was able to Skype with them while he was in the hospital, and he was able to say good night to his children.”

Happily listening to gospel music via the tablet, 72-year-old patient Mary Feltner, of Franklin, lauded the hospital for helping her “spend the long hours” entertained via Netflix, Pandora, Facebook and other apps, and keeping her apprised of her vital signs and medication schedules.

“I think it’s a great program,” she said. “You feel more connected. You don’t feel like you’re sitting here and you don’t know what’s been going on.”

Diane Thomas-Joy, a patient with more than 30 years nursing experience and a legal nurse consultant, said the tablet program is “astounding” and likely will have a positive effect on the price of health care.

“The patient having access to their own medical records in real time is absolutely wonderful,” she said.

The tablets cost $400 each or a total of $58,000, according to hospital spokeswoman Carol O’Hare.

Hospital administrators managed a six-month test of the program on a single patient floor before deciding to launch it on four floors of the hospital, O’Hare said. The fifth and final floor of the hospital is projected to receive tablets in March, she said.

Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital recently introduced tablet-based programming and plans to expand it to more areas of the hospital in the future.

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