Putting More Information and Control in the Patient’s Hands

January 4, 2016 in Patient Engagement Table, Patient Experience, Tablets

Not long ago, one of our customers asked this question: What could we do within a patient’s room to make it easier to use a tablet or other portable electronic device? Could we repurpose an over-bed table so we can avoid another awkward cart or big arm in the room? So, we set to work putting together a prototype of what would eventually become our new Patient Engagement Table.

With the goal of determining feasibility in a short period of time, we purchased some used over-bed tables off eBay, and, with our machine shop and a variety of standard GCX parts, we attached a flexible arm to hold the tablet. The prototype wasn’t fully developed or particularly elegant, but we decided nevertheless to show it at last year’s HIMSS conference, inviting comments from hospital IT professionals attending the show.

To our surprise, the display generated considerable interest – even tucked in the back of a big booth. That unexpected attraction and positive feedback guided us and informed the next iteration of the Patient Engagement Table, which we successfully developed in a few weeks and rolled into several interested hospitals. This led us to learn still more about how our design choices related to a hospital’s room architecture, software choices, and patient engagement strategy.

Today, this patent-pending technology includes:

  • An adjustable-height, over-bed table with a synthetic thermoplastic table surface and welled areas to contain spills
  • An articulating arm that places the tablet in a variety of use positions for the patient or family member
  • Anodized aluminum structure for durability and easy cleaning
  • An industry-standard GCX channel profile to facilitate integration of accessories
  • A 4-port USB charging module for the tablet and additional phones and devices

The Patient Engagement Table has great potential to improve the patient experience while also relieving some nurse workload. With the right app installed on a tablet, patients and visitors can learn about their course of care; stay connected to family, friends, and their care team; and even control their hospital room’s lighting and climate, freeing up staff otherwise obliged to stop by and adjust conditions in the room.

Innovation leads to quicker recovery

We embarked on this process thinking that hospitals would use the Patient Engagement Table to help meet the government’s meaningful use targets as outlined within the Affordable Care Act. We soon discovered how much bigger this technology’s impact can be and how passionate some leading hospitals are about changing their patients’ experience for the better.

Hospital stays can be scary and intimidating. A person in poor health or recovering from an injury finds herself surrounded by unfamiliar equipment and medical personnel rushing in and out to take blood, monitor vital signs, etc. Giving patients even a minimal sense of control over their environment can dramatically enhance their overall experience – and that greater comfort leads to a quicker healing process.

A positive experience benefits the patient (who’s certainly eager to resume normal life), as well as hospitals (who are committed to meeting high standards in patient satisfaction and reducing costs).

Our willingness to experiment and offer quick responses to hospital hardware needs is partly attitude, but it’s also fundamental to our operations strategy. Since the larger part of our manufacturing takes place in the U.S., we can rapidly respond to a changing market, whether it’s fluctuating sales demand or a new product need. We have the process, tools, and talent in place to generate exciting product innovations at a fast pace and within an ISO 13485-certified quality management system.

The new Patient Engagement Table is a great example of our approach to product innovation. Depending on the situation, we can function like a startup enterprise, dispensing with the large-scale “master plan” and focusing instead on rapid, cost-effective learning and problem solving. This attitude is closely attuned to the GCX culture, with our focus on helping hospitals and medical staffs provide a more comfortable, patient-focused approach to care.

Be sure to stop by our booth at HIMSS 2016 in Las Vegas and see the Patient Engagement Table and other exciting GCX products that make hospital visits safer and more satisfactory for patients and providers alike.