Preloaded iPads improve patient experience

By Mike Miliard
02:22 PM

NORWOOD, NJ – When people are "moved into a medical environment from their home, it's very disorienting," says Joshua Jacobs, vice president of Windsor Healthcare, a Norwood, N.J.-based recovery, rehabilitation and nursing facility. "When they're taken out of their routine, it's very easy to lose focus."

Jacobs started thinking about how iPads might help with entertainment and communication with family members. "We always try to look for innovations and new technology and new ideas we can bring to patient care," he says. "We have libraries and computers with cameras, but the truth is most people don't use those for communications and video-chatting. It's not as convenient as an iPad would be."

Problem is, it's a pretty big investment to purchase that many $600 iPads. "It would cost us a lot to bring this service to our patient," says Jacobs. "We thought about doing a rental system in-house, that would be a little cumbersome for us to do the whole program."

Enter Manhattan-based Pad in Motion. The company is only a few months old, only focuses on the New York area right now, and is just rolling out into a few hospitals this month. But it’s hoping more and more inpatient facilities and software developers will see the appeal of its rental model.

Pad in Motion co-founder Nir Altman points out that studies have long shown a positive correlation between patient happiness and recovery time. By "improving the patient experience," he says, there's a good chance a hospital can improve the speed with which they get well. And by delivering pre-loaded iPads, stocked with an array of games, movies, books and magazines – and, crucially, the connectivity afforded by Twitter, Skype and Facebook – the company hopes to help contribute to that patient experience.

"We screen and hand-pick the best apps, whether they be entertainment or magazines, lifestyle, whatever, out of hundreds of thousands on iTunes, based on their track records – ones that have won most awards, ones featuring into top 20 lists of reputable publications, etc," says Gabe Vorobiof, MD, Pad in Motion's co-founder.

(Vorobiof, a board certified cardiologist, also oversees the five-point germicidal and antimicrobial hygiene process for iPads returning from loan – obviously a key concern in a hospital setting.)

"It's difficult to be a hospital patient," says Pad in Motion co-founder Nir Altman. "One is taken from their everyday normalcy and friends and family to really being suddenly cut off from that environment and losing that connectivity." Customized iPads – "each completely different, based on the preference of the renter" –could help ameliorate that difficulty, if even a little.

"We try to serve our patients in the best way possible," says Jacobs. "This allows people to stay connected with their pre-hospital life."

There are benefits for the hospital, too. Higher patient satisfaction scores are one obvious potential boon. Branding opportunities offer another. Pad in Motion will customize the iPad with the logo of the hospital as the wallpaper, for instance, or could have "information that's typically included in the registration packet preloaded on the iPad."

"We are going to be using some cosmetic branding on the iPads," says Jacobs. "The fact that we are offering this service does mean a lot to our brand and our company, because it demonstrates our commitment to looking for ways to improve patient care."

Pad in Motion offers financial incentives to hospitals and healthcare organizations, representing a "new revenue stream," says Altman. "The person using the iPad pays a daily fee, a portion of that is given to the hospital. It's very much a partnership."

But "even if the revenue-sharing didn't exist," the program "would be very attractive to us," says Jacobs. "It's a good differentiator."

And, the business is focused on patient care, says Vorobiof.

"From a physicians's perspective, there's been, to date, a great need to improve the patient physician relationship or interaction through the use of technology," says Vorobiof. "I think the iPad lends itself to that sort of utility. It's portable, hi-res, intuitive."

So Pad in Motion continues to explore more clinically-focused applications, and is in talks with other software developers to create more. "Not only are patients going to feel more satisfied with their hospital stay," he says, "but they're also going to feel more empowered and have a better understanding about their care process, through the interaction with the iPad."