Tablets have been making the rounds in hospitals for years, as care teams use them to streamline workflows, access electronic health records and collaborate on the go. In fact, 79.8 percent of hospitals use tablets to coordinate and provide patient care, according to a 2017 study from HIMSS Analytics.
Now, innovative health systems like Nebraska Medicine are realizing that tablets can do more than improve staff communication and productivity. They can also serve as critical vehicles for patients to obtain information and be more engaged in their care, and also provide infotainment and Healing Arts applications that boost patient satisfaction, engagement and positive outcomes.
When Nebraska Medicine began providing patients with tablets, the staff ran into a common challenge: Making the devices useful and fun, but also secure. Nebraska Medicine provides a set of entertainment applications on the tablets, in addition to the patient’s electronic medical record, that are free but often allowed the patient to enter personal information including email and credit card information. This meant the devices had to be completely electronically (as well as physically) wiped between patients. Otherwise, personal data could end up in the hands of the next user — potentially compromising the patient’s Protected Health Information (PHI).
After patients were discharged, nurses waited for someone from the IT department to come wipe them. Once a day, an engineer restored each device by doing a complete factory reset. Then the engineer had to restore the settings and any basic apps or required packages.
“It would take about five minutes to do the work,” says Lizabeth M. Raabe, Senior Application Analyst at Nebraska Medicine. “Then they’d have to sit and wait for the processes to finish, so it took about 10 to 20 minutes to do the actual reset.” Over the weekends and holidays when IT staff was not as available, longer waiting periods meant missed opportunities to provide the tablets to patients.