Mt. Sinai offers iPads to patients to track their stay

By: Jonah Comstock | Jul 8, 2014

New York City-based Mt. Sinai Medical Center has begun offering iPads to patients to keep track of their hospital stay. The central feature of the app, Patient Itinerary, allows patients to stay informed about when they are scheduled for surgeries, lab tests, and consultations.

“If you have a patient that’s here for five or six days, they really don’t know what’s going to be happen during the course of their day,” Michael DeCarlo, director of health IT at Mt. Sinai, told MobiHealthNews. “So that was really the driver behind creating the patient itinerary.”

The Mayo Clinic implemented a similar pilot in an outpatient context for patients recovering from heart surgery. That app included an assessment component, but also equipped users with a schedule and to-do list for the day. DeCarlo said that pilot was an inspiration for Mt. Sinai, but that they’re applying the same ideas to an inpatient context. Currently, about 50 iPads are deployed across six units in the hospital.

“There are certain units this isn’t really appropriate for,” DeCarlo said. “If we have a surgical unit where the patients are incapacitated and still recovering from anesthesia, they’re really not going to check an iPad. Somebody who’s more alert and conscious, those are the units we’re targeting.”

The Patient Itinerary app was developed in-house at Mt. Sinai, but the hospital partnered with NYC-based PadInMotion (a Blueprint Health graduate) to add more functionality to the app. Patients can use PadInMotion’s software to securely access entertainment offerings like Netflix or Facebook, as well as to access a curated library of health content particular to the reason for their visit.

The app also contains a survey patients take at the end of their stay, rating the iPad experience on a scale of 1 to 5. The average score so far, DeCarlo said, is 4.75.

“So it’s very well-received by patients,” he said. “The doctors have also said it’s more of a driver for patients to ask more questions [of] them and get more involved in their care as well. So the patient sees ‘I’m supposed to go for this procedure’ and they’re not really sure what the procedure is, that kind of drives them to ask the nurses more information about what’s going on. So the patients are more involved in their own care.”

In making schedules more transparent in order to show them to patients, DeCarlo said the hospital also ended up improving its own workflow and efficiency — to make sure that if the app said a patient was going to surgery at 11:00, they’d really go at 11.

Mt. Sinai has previously given iPads to patients, but only in the facility’s geriatric emergency room. There, stripped down iPads internally referred to as “GeriPads” allow patients to have two-way video conversations with nurses and to request food, medication, or music.

Future plans include expanding the app to more units and, eventually more hospitals. To facilitate that, DeCarlo said, the hospital is looking into offering a BYOD option, so some people can just download an app on their existing device. This could also allow family members of patients in the hospital to download the same app and keep track of their loved one’s schedule.