Hospitals find new benefits in ‘Interactive patient systems’

By Eric Wicklund
09:28 AM
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And the movies and video games are cool, too.

With hospitals looking to spend their IT dollars wisely, solutions that affect clinical care or demonstrate meaningful use are coming out ahead. And that’s what vendors like GetWellNetwork, Telehealth Services, LodgeNet Healthcare and Lincor Solutions are touting.

“You need to focus on the returns. You just can’t have a marketing department buy into this,” said Michele Perry, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Bethesda, Md.-based GetWellNetwork, one of the leaders in the so-called interactive patient system category. In talking to a hospital or healthcare system, she said, the company develops an “outcome achievement plan” that helps to identify what administrators want to accomplish.

Clinical outcomes “are the new thing out there,” she said. “They’re finding so many new opportunities in this product, not just the entertainment value.”

According to a recent white paper from the Dallas-based Beryl Institute, hospitals using interactive technology to communicate with patients increased patient satisfaction scores by about 10 percent, while patient satisfaction with hospital educational materials and courses jumped by as much as 42 percent. The study was based on six hospitals using technology from San Diego-based Skylight Healthcare Systems, and used scores from industry-standard Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAPS).

Those keeping track of the healthcare information technology field have taken note of the trend. KLAS has analyzed the interactive patient systems market, while Gartner has termed it bedside multimedia.

In its review, KLAS gave top marks to GetWellNetwork’s PatientLife System, LodgeNet Healthcare’s LodgeNetRX and Telehealth Services’ TIGR Patient Education System, while also reviewing Cerner’s CareAware myStation and Skylight’s ACCESS solutions.

“The entertainment side subsidizes the clinical side,” said Mark Goodman, vice president of sales and marketing for Lincor Solutions, an Irish company whose MEDIvista bedside computing technology solution combines diagnostic and scheduling services with digital entertainment and communications. “There’s a tremendous operational benefit,” he said, that appeals to hospital executives looking to justify the technology at a time when ROI is so important.

To wit, Lincor’s MEDIvista offers computerized physician order entry, electronic patient records, electronic drug charting, test ordering and a nursing dashboard. It also offers drug inventory control, computerized meal management, payment solutions, clinical risk and quality control and HIS reporting and surveys.

And, of course, there’s also on-demand TV and movies, Internet access, meal ordering capabilities and video games.

Among the company’s more recent customers is Collingwood General & Marine Hospital in Toronto, which is installing specially designed touchscreen computers at every bedside to access MEDIVista.

“Lincor’s MEDIVista solution enables us to provide reliable, secure access to vital applications such as picture archiving system (PACS) and patient records (EHR) at the patient bedside, supporting better diagnosis, treatment and management of patients,” said Steve Soychak the CIO at G&M Hospital. “Meanwhile the wide range patient-oriented entertainment, education and communications services, delivered on the same device, help to improve patient experience and wellbeing during their hospital stay.”

TeleHealth Services, based in Raleigh, N.C., recently announced a deal with the Beloit Health System of Beloit, Wis. Hospital officials say the TIGR V7 interactive patient education system allows physicians to push treatment plans to patients and receive real-time feedback. In addition, patients can order from the gift shop or cafeteria, adjust the room environment and play online games.

“The on-demand education at the bedside makes the patient and their families active participants in the recovery process," said Judy Cramer, the health system’s director of education. “The clinical technology integration into our ADT and EMR systems provides our staff the ability to completely automate several workflows. With this task removed from their daily workload, our clinicians can focus on the quality of care they are providing, resulting in increased staff satisfaction.”

“As hospitals seek more efficient ways of accessing and managing clinical information, they are increasingly relying on their technology partners to integrate their solutions amongst several current hospital technologies," said Richard Bootes, vice president of development and inventor of the TIGR interactive patient education system. "With TIGR V7, clinical staff are able to review comprehension testing results, education reports and patient satisfaction reports on the actual patient file, which not only provides them with added flexibility but also enables them to respond more quickly to patient needs.”  

Another vendor, CareView Communications of Lewisville, Texas, recently announced a deal with Naples, Fla.-based Health Management Associates to install the CareView System in HMA’s 59 hospitals in 15 states, comprising some 8,900 beds.