Ochsner expands iOS healthcare strategy with 'Optimal Hospital' initiative

Smartphones, tablets and smartwatches are playing a starring role in the mHealth strategy at a New Orleans healthcare provider in an effort to foster greater care efficiency and patient engagement.

Ochsner Health System's "Optimal Hospital" initiative, which kicked off late last week and is the first project to come out of the hospital's iO innovation lab, is tapping all those mobile devices to spur greater patient interaction in care and giving providers more time with patients than with paperwork.

"It's helping make it easy to do the right things and avoid doing the wrong things," Richard Milani, M.D., clinical transformation officer and chief medical officer for innovationOchsner, told FierceMobileHealthcare in a phone interview. The focus, Milani says, is staying on target with Ochsner's core principle of providing the best care.

"At the end of the day, it's all about the principle of quality care, trying to make it about the best care for patients, improving quality and efficiency and making lives better," Milani says. Both providers and patients have embraced the effort, he adds. 

Nurses "love it," he says. "It makes their lives easier, helps staff work to fullest capacity and eases administration workload so more time can be spent on patient care and interaction."

Ochsner, Louisiana's largest nonprofit academic healthcare system, was the first hospital that integrated its Epic electronic healthcare recordkeeping system with Apple's HealthKit. Since then, Ochsner has been using iOS devices with its Epic EHRplatform and HealthKit to drive greater efficiency and better patient care.

In 2015, Ochsner began piloting the Apple Watch as an mHealth tool to help patients manage high blood pressure and live a healthier lifestyle. The provider is one of dozens tapping Apple's healthcare platform. The growing list includes Cerner and athenahealth, as well as Stanford University Hospital and Duke University. Apple also has plans to work with Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic.

Ochsner also launched its Digital Medicine Program in 2015. The outpatient program focuses on helping patients with uncontrolled blood pressure. That effort, according to an Ochsner announcement, is having a tremendous impact on patient care, with two-thirds of users getting blood pressure levels in control within three months of joining the program.

"We've seen higher levels of patient satisfaction using iOS devices over the more traditional methods of care and, overall, the patients are more engaged in their healthcare decisions. These are important factors which have a crucial effect on health outcomes in helping patients live more fulfilling lives," Milani said in an announcement about the program's results.

Ochsner formed its iO lab last year with a goal to revolutionize the experience and delivery of healthcare. The Optimal Hospital program, via the Epic Canto app, lets physicians evaluate test results, and allows nurses to check patient IDs via the Epic Rover app as well as current medication dosage. A Sotera Wireless ViSi Mobile System measures and records vital signs which are shared via Epic as well as the care teams' iPhones.   

Patients, via an iPad, are tapping the MyChart Bedside app to check exam and treatment schedules, access lab and receive additional education on their condition.

For more information:
- read the announcement

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