Innovation

How UC San Diego Health is giving patients a more high-tech experience

The newly opened Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla, California leverages wireless tech to make the healthcare process more efficient for patients.

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Patients at the new Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health are given iPads to use during their hospital stay.

Image: Apple

A dose of tech is part of what patients are receiving at the new Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health. The 245-bed medical and surgical hospital opened in La Jolla, Calif. in November, and every room is equipped with an iPad and an Apple TV.

When a patient arrives in their room, they're given access to an iPad. The iPad provides secure access to the patient's medical records through the MyChart Bedside app by Epic, so they can check on their treatment, medication schedule, and lab results. The iPad also allows a patient to control the environment of their hospital room, which includes the ability to adjust the temperature and the window blinds, said Christopher Longhurst, M.D., CIO at UC San Diego Health. Longhurst joined UC San Diego Health last year after working at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, where he was the chief medical information officer.

Nurses and clinicians are also getting in on the tech side of things - they get smartphones with secure messaging for communicating with staff, instead of the simple VoIP phones that were used in the past, Longhurst said.

SEE: Healthcare IT's battle to keep sensitive data safe (TechRepublic)

The process to open a tech-friendly hospital began a year ago; one goal was to give patients more control and to stop nurses and medical technicians from spending unnecessary time on simple tasks such as turning down the thermostat in a patient's room.

"When I arrived they were a year away from opening this new medical center. The plans were vague and had not solidified the details on how it would be an interactive hospital and how it would connect with patients. I led the teams through some exercises to crystallize what it is we wanted to do," Longhurst said. "It turned out we could expect to get 800 calls monthly from patients to adjust temperature. Patients want to be comfortable in their room, and they always call the nurse or facilities to come adjust it."

The rollout of iPads and Apple TV began as a pilot on one floor, and it was well received, so it was quickly rolled out throughout the new medical center.

Being able to access their medical records is important to many patients. "Some patients are very interested in lab results because discharge from the hospital depends on what the tests reveal," said Marc Sylwestrzak, information services experience and development director at UC San Diego Health.

The hospital uses Crestron Fusion Cloud to manage and control the temperature in the hospital patient rooms, meeting spaces and nurse stations.

"Many patients have extremely limited mobility, so the little things most people take for granted - closing the blinds when the sun is too bright, or turning the heat up or down - can be very difficult," said Evan Ackmann, director of lighting control for Crestron. "Room control technology may be a luxury for some, but in a hospital setting, it is about quality of life. Studies have shown that creating the right environment promotes faster healing, which translates into better outcomes, faster patient out-time, and cost savings."

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The new Jacobs Medical Center in La Jolla, Calif.

Image: UC San Diego Health

The hospital worked with Jamf for mobile device management. Jamf manages 7.1 million devices for nearly 10,000 customers in business and education. Jamf had not previously managed mobile devices for patients in a hospital setting, and so the company was interested in working with UC San Diego Health to try to transform the patient experience, said Dean Hager, CEO of Jamf.

Security and privacy were the biggest hurdles. "Ultimately the issue was that there was patient information on that tablet. And not just MyChart Bedside," Hager said. "What if they write something on that tablet? If it's a shared tablet it has to get handed off to the next patient and HIPAA requirements are that you can't have a single bit of information on that tablet that goes to the next patient that came from the prior patient."

SEE: Report: 82% of hospitals fear they aren't prepared for mobile cyberattacks (TechRepublic)

To resolve this, Jamf had to come up with a way to digitally wipe the tablet clean after each patient used it, without requiring the hospital's IT staff to do any hands-on work.

"The solution would be if somehow you could deliver an iPad to the patient at factory settings, with nothing on it whatsoever, and power it up and automatically it comes up with everything on it the patient needs. And the moment the patient is discharged, it's automatically wiped clean again as if it just came out of the factory," he said. "With that type of solution you could, one, load up the iPad with every asset the patient would want to use. And, two, you could guarantee data privacy because you're wiping it completely clean when they are discharged. And three, if you could do it all automatically you're not causing undue effort to the IT team."

To do this, Hager said he used Apple's Device Enrollment Program (DEP), which pings the network the first time a brand new Apple device is powered on, and identifies whether a device is consumer owned or owned by an organization. If it's owned by an organization, it points to the company's server, and it takes over management of the device. Since Jamf is the mobile device management company for UC San Diego Health, "it allows Jamf to take over control of the device at first power up. Since we can take control at first power up, we can automatically, remotely, wirelessly load everything that is needed on that device," Hager said. When a patient is discharged, it's automatically wiped clean.

It works seamlessly, Longhurst said. "I discharged a patient this weekend, and I went to pick up the tablet and it was already wiped clean."

"Even though it's been a little less than a month since we opened, all signs point to this being highly successful. We have a couple of research studies looking at its impact, and our preliminary data has been very positive," Longhurst said.

The top 3 takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. The new Jacobs Medical Center at UC San Diego Health provides an iPad and Apple TV to each patient to use during their stay at the 245-bed hospital.
  2. Jamf is the mobile device management company that oversees remotely loading and wiping each device for every patient.
  3. The iPads provide patients access to their medical records, as well as allows them to control their room's temperature and open and close the room's window blinds.

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About Teena Maddox

Teena Maddox is a Senior Writer at TechRepublic, covering hardware devices, IoT, smart cities and wearables. She ties together the style and substance of tech. Teena has spent 20-plus years writing business and features for publications including Peo...

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