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Daily News: Disease

Hospital patients can track care with bedside tablet computer


Columbus Dispatch (OH)

12-31-13

Dec. 30--Jeff Keaser has been at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital for about three weeks, since he learned he has leukemia and needed inpatient chemotherapy right away.

The 49-year-old from Troy said he's grateful for the care he's received, including the availability of a tablet computer that connects him to his medical records and helps teach Keaser and his family about his disease and treatment.

The tablets are in use in a cancer unit and a heart unit as part of a pilot project at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

They include information about the patient's diagnosis, lab results, medications and treatment team and allow patients to communicate electronically with doctors and nurses. The concept, called MyChart, already is in use by more than 75,000 Ohio State patients seen on an outpatient basis, but this is the first effort to give patients access to their electronic medical records in the hospital.

In Keaser's case, the tablet has been helping him track important changes in his health, including his blood counts. And he used it to get help from a dietitian when he was unsure how best to increase protein in his diet.

Keaser said he also uses it to record reminders of things he wants to tell his family or ask his medical team.

"I love it. It's a nice thing to have if you want to learn more about what you've got. I like to know what's going on with me," he said.

The pilot started in early December, and hospital leaders are hopeful it will be used throughout the medical center by the time the new hospital opens at the end of next year, said Dr. Milisa Rizer, chief medical information officer.

Rizer said the bedside tablets empower patients and keep the lines of communication open between them and the medical teams.

Often, hospitalized patients can be overwhelmed by the volume of information doctors and nurses share with them, but MyChart holds that information for review at any time, she said. It also allows patients to track their condition over time by following trends in their vital signs and other measures.

The $15,000 pilot project is going well so far, and patients (and family members) of all ages appear eager to use the 24 tablets the medical center purchased, said Lisa Zaidain Saslaw, senior information technology analyst.

Stephanie Furniss, applications analyst, said she's been surprised to see how enthusiastic patients are about using the system.

Patients also use the tablets to get on the Internet and play games, she said, but most have been eager to monitor their health.

Ohio State is the second hospital in the country (St. Rita's Medical Center in Lima was the first) to use the technology, created by the technology company Epic.

Cory Werts, clinical manager of the intensive-care step-down unit at St. Rita's, said patients there have been grateful for the 25 tablets the hospital has provided, and so has the staff.

Some patients who worry that they're bothering a nurse with requests for a glass of water or a blanket feel more comfortable about sending a text message through the system instead, she said.

"I view this really as the future of health care," Werts said. "The more that we can incorporate electronic devices ... to enhance patient care and patient education, I really think it's going to take it to the next level."

mcrane@dispatch.com

@MistiCrane

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(c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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Copyright Columbus Dispatch (OH) 2013

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