The Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health is making the web and digital healthcare tools a core part of the patient experience. The newly built hospital is providing patients with iPads that give them more control over the hospital experience by enabling access to their electronic health records, information about their medical team, the ability to set room temperature and lighting and select in-room entertainment options.

Providing interactive patient touch points in each room was part of the plan from the medical centers lead donor, former Qualcomm chairman and co-founder Irwin Jacobs, who along with his wife Joan donated $100 million to construct the 245-bed facility, says Jacobs Medical chief information officer Dr. Christopher Longhurst. Jacobs is also a UC San Diego founding faculty member.

The architects designed a facility that can support web technology capable of interacting with the hospitals information technology systems, Longhurst says. The cost to create the technology infrastructure and supply iPads to patients was bundled into the $943 million price tag to construct the 509,500-square-foot facility, UC San Diego Health says. Jacobs Medical did not break out the cost.

The Jacobs Medical Center, which opened in November, is made up of three wings: the Rady Pavilion for Women and Infants, the Pauline and Stanley Foster Pavilion for Cancer Care and the A. Vassiliadis Family Pavilion for Advanced Surgery.

To enable patient access to their medical records, UC San Diego Health worked with Epic Systems Corp., a large provider of electronic health records systems, and Jamf, a provider of enterprise management software for Apple Inc.s platform.

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Using the Epic MyChart Bedside iOS app, a patient can access his medical records and test results, see what medications he is taking, upcoming tests and his medication schedule. All patient data is encrypted.

Patients can also pull up biographies and photos of the attending physician, registered nurse and certified nursing assistants providing care to learn more about them. In addition, patients can access videos and articles about their condition and treatment and how to care for themselves or a new born at home after they are discharged.

Making this kind of information available to patients can make them easier to treat as they feel more involved in the treatment and decision-making process, Longhurst says.

Getting patients set up on the MyChart app is fairly straight forward, Longhurst says. First, a physician or nurse asks a patient if he wants to use the app. Next, a QR code is pulled up on a workstation laptop that is scanned by the iPads camera to launch the MyChart app on the device. The patient then creates a four-digit personal identification number to open the app each time it is used. A QR code is machine-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone.

Upon discharge, the hospitals Epic system triggers a message instructing the patients laptop to erase all patient data on the hard drive using the Jamf application.

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One of the things we have seen in the short time this technology has been operational is that helping patients with the iPads is not taking away from the nursing staffs clinical care time as originally thought, Longhurst says.

Enabling patients to manage their rooms environment is also creating operating efficiency, since maintenance staff and nurses do not have to be called to adjust room temperature, lighting, blinds or the television. Entertainment is available through Apple TV on the iPad. This capability saves a lot of calls to the support staff to perform these tasks, Longhurst says.

In the future Longhurst says the hospital is looking to add more functionality to the app such as enabling secure text messaging between patients and medical staff and allowing patients to adjust their bed. Future plans also call for gathering feedback from patients about their experience during their hospital stay, rather than conducting a post-discharge survey. Gathering patient feedback while a patient is in the hospital can help improve a patients care and satisfaction, Longhurst says.

Integrating these features into the hospitals technology infrastructure will not be difficult since it is designed to support expansion of the app, Longhurst says.

We see this as a foundational digital tool that can deliver a better experience for patients by engaging them in their own care, says Longhurst. Thats where the real return on investment is.

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