What are we trying to achieve?
We wanted to improve patient experience by providing a system that allows patients to access different entertainment options and keep in touch with their family/whānau and friends without having to leave their hospital bed.
What did we find?
Patients often tell us that being in hospital is boring; they need a distraction from their health issues and the monotony of lying in hospital beds. Results from a patient survey about our ward physical environment showed that internet access was the most common request to improve patient experience. We now have free WiFi available anywhere on our hospital and community based sites 24 hours a day.
Patient survey results about what would improve their experience on our wards
What was also clear was that providing a range of entertainment options would significantly improve people’s experience, this included access to movies, music, games, reading material and multimedia devices.
What have we done?
We teamed up with a digital innovation team at Vodafone to trial iPads at every bed on Ward 7 at North Shore Hospital. Ward 7 is a busy orthopaedic ward providing care for patients of mixed age, gender and ethnicity, making it a perfect place to test a system that needs to work for both patients and staff.
Currently available on the iPads are:
- health promotion information (including information about the ward and medications)
- internet browsing
- communications tools (Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites)
- free TV or other TV and movie options for those with accounts (such as Sky Go and Netflix)
- music and radio
- online books and news
- patient experience surveys
Patient Entertainment System with preset apps, games, tools and patient information
The devices are fully mobile so are not fixed and most patients simply prop them up on their meal trolley. They are connected to the internet and allow full access to whatever content patients want. The devices are reset between patients to ensure that no personal information is left on them after people leave the ward.
Did we make a difference?
Within the first few hours of ‘going live’ with our Patient Entertainment Systems, patients were using online banking, accessing Facebook, Skyping grandchildren in Australia, and managing businesses from their hospital beds.
An exciting development was that one nurse used Google Translate to communicate with a woman who only spoke Mandarin. This encouraged us to include a more reliable translation app, which is now installed on every device.
Since that time we have been collecting feedback from patients, which has been unanimously positive. People appreciate being able to continue with their everyday lives as much as possible while they are in hospital. It is also a distraction from health problems - the nurses notice that people use their call bells less because they have something to take their minds off their pain. Patients sharing rooms have also been selecting music that they all enjoy singing along to!
Most people have their own smart devices, but the iPads are still useful for people when their own devices are not charged, or for those who don’t own them. They are also used by family members when they want to leave their loved ones to sleep.
[View a feature on NewsHub about our Patient Entertainment Systems]
Where to from here?
The initial pilot was a great success and we now plan to roll the devices out to the majority of inpatient beds. Beyond entertainment purposes we recognised that the iPads provided a platform to better engage with our patients to help them manage their own care. For example we are investigating the following opportunities for development:
- Health information
Currently we provide general information about the ward and some pain management advice. We plan to have personalised health content specific to the patient’s condition or treatment available on their individual device.
- Two-way communication
Currently patients can complete our online survey from their device but we want to increase the communication capability. This might include using tools like video-conferencing (or Skype) so that family members can be part of doctors’ ward rounds even if they can’t be at the hospital in person.
- Ordering meals
We want to integrate meal ordering so that patients can see the menu and order their meals online.
What started as a way to give patients some entertainment options and relieve boredom has quickly become an important tool to empower patients to be more in control of their hospital experience, and to stay connected to their normal lives.
Patient using a Patient Entertainment System
This project is part of our wider Leapfrog programme [view more about Leapfrog].