Texas Health Alliance launches new patient education tool

08/12/2014 11:00 AM

08/12/2014 11:01 AM

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Alliance has launched an interactive education program that will help explain the patient’s diagnosis and treatment, a hospital spokeswoman said.

In the past, information was usually provided verbally, between the patient and their caregivers, with many patients looking to the Internet for more information, according to hospital spokeswoman Melissa Smart.

“With this new web-based program, patients are able to access information from a reliable source on any number of topics, on their own time, even after leaving the hospital,” Smart said.

Access to the programs is convenient at the hospital, which has tablets installed in every patient room, attached to ergonomic swing arms that allow for hands-free viewing. The modules can also be viewed on the wall-mounted flat screen televisions in each room.

“This program is just another benefit the tablets provide patients, which also allow for temperature control over their environment, access to the internet, and meal ordering,” Smart said.

Kendra Slatton, chief nursing officer at Texas Health Alliance, said the program is an asset to people who are usually not at their best when they are in the hospital “and there is a lot going on, which can make it difficult to understand your diagnosis and treatment.”

“With this program, we are giving patients the option of how and when they want to learn, helping them to understand, and hopefully create a more engaged, empowered patient,” Slatton said.

But, she said, the technology does not cut down on time with staff.

“Actually, it’s the opposite — because of this product we have more time to spend with patients,” Slatton said. “We’re not walking around saying, ‘Don’t ask us, watch a video.’ What were we’re doing is giving them an additional, credible source of information about their condition and types of treatment, giving our caregivers more time to spend answering questions and discussing options.”

Education modules may be automatically assigned to a patient when admitted or manually assigned by a care team member based on a diagnosis. The modules are interactive, and use simple descriptions and graphics to explain complicated medical conditions, treatment options available and the risks and benefits associated with them, which can be shared with family and friends. It is available in multiple languages.

Once the education has been completed, the program automatically sends information to the patient’s electronic health record, noting that they received additional education.

During its first month at Texas Health Alliance, 115 programs were ordered, covering topics like asthma, blood transfusion, carpal tunnel release, and anesthesia.

“Once I started working with the modules, I was hooked,” said Cory Franks, clinical nurse leader at the hospital. “Patients who have utilized it love it. It is quick and easy to use, and helps prepare them for when they go home.”

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