Now Showing at Stanford Hospital: Movies, News, Sunsets – and All About Your Hernia

New Technology Enhances Patient Comfort and Communication

STANFORD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- When a patient checks in to Stanford Hospital from now on, the room wall will have an extra special something. Most hospitals have had televisions in patient rooms for decades. But few now have what Stanford offers its patients on new, 26-inch high definition monitors. The Stanford At Your Service (SAYS) system will, of course, offer the latest movies and entertainment selections and specialty channels like ESPN and the Food Network. It also has special bells and whistles: Internet connection options; customized and updated health information and a new patient favorite: the Window channel, which displays hand-selected videos of a dreamy beach sunset on the Sea of Cortez or a Costa Rican rainforest.

Those are viewing choices that can relax, educate and entertain. SAYS has one more amenity−a patient communication tool designed to make their stay more comfortable. If a patient answers “no” to any one of a list of seven questions about care, displayed on the monitor, that response is quickly relayed so something can be done right away, even if that something is a wastebasket that needs emptied or fresh towels supplied.

“We want to have the opportunity to make things the best we can for patients,” said Nancy Lee, the Hospital’s Vice President for Patient Services and Chief Nursing Officer. “If they need something, we want to hear about it before they go home. The SAYS system puts each of the front-line managers in a really nice position of being able to say, ‘Let me fix that for you.’ Patients are surprised and delighted when someone shows up right away.”

“The new system will speed and enhance patient care in other ways, too,” said patient care manager Myra Lang, RN, MS, who has co-lead the SAYS project. “We’ll be dramatically reducing the need for hallway speaker use. If I get a call from operations saying a fire alarm test is going to happen, I can send a message out on the SAYS screen. That will definitely contribute to our noise reduction goal.”

SAYS receives information about each patient from the Hospital’s admissions, transfer and discharge offices. SAYS includes a complete video tour of the Hospital and a full listing of all patient service−like the animal therapy program, PAWS. The day before a patient is to be discharged, SAYS will display a reminder about what’s involved in the process. If a patient is moved to a new room, the system will remember what video the patient was watching and have it ready to be watched.

Nurses can use SAYS to help patients better understand their medical conditions and prepare for their return home. More than 50 education videos are available in the SAYS system, all recently updated in collaboration with nurse educators and medical librarians from the Hospital’s renowned Health Library. Library Director Nora Cain was a co-leader in the SAYS project.

The SAYS system is the product of nearly six years of research, changes in hospital building regulations, new content availability, updates to medical information, evolving technology and negotiation about what would be included. “When we started, we thought it would take six months,” Lang jokes, with perfect hindsight.

The physical challenges were no small part of the $1.5 million project, partially funded by donors. The old televisions, for instance, weighed 70 pounds, the new monitors ones 20. That meant new support brackets, which meant approval for the change needed to be won from the state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, a lengthy process that ultimately involved other necessary physical changes. “What seemed to be simple turned into a much more complex project,” Lang said.

The system is powered by the Skylight Healthcare Systems company, based in San Diego. It was just five years old when it began to work on the Stanford Hospital project. “Ten years ago, people were running down the hall looking for the VCR cart,” said company spokesperson Darrell Atkin, “and people were sharing a 13-inch Zenith.”

“Traditionally, in a hospital, we were able to offer television programming and that was it,” said Lang. As Stanford asked for new features−like instant, whole system language translations from English to Spanish, Skylight responded. “There were thoughts and ideas we had had,” said Skylight CEO Dave Schofield, “but Stanford provided a platform to take it to a whole other level. We hold Stanford up as a standard bearer for customization, especially that involving patient demographics.”

Stanford also wanted patients to have Internet connection choices, too. Patients can read their email using the SAYS remote control-like handset and a hospital-provided keyboard. Or, if patients have their own laptops, they can connect through a nearby data port without ever getting out of bed.

The SAYS handset, which can be held to the ear or rested on the bed, also has a speaker in it. That means there’s no need to turn volume up high enough to hear across the room. All those great sunsets and sunrises on the Window channel were selected by a Hospital program manager David Rebhan, who chose from many locations from around the world. “I felt like Martin Scorcese,” he said, referring to a well-known film director. Not unsurprisingly, the Window channel is proving very popular with patients. “It’s very relaxing,” Rebhan said.

Lang said future plans for SAYS include its use by patients to order food, instead of paper menus. The system will know what kind of diet a patient has been prescribed and limit food choices to a pre-established menu. “If they’re on a low salt diet,” Lang said, “they will not be able to order bacon!”

About Stanford Hospital & Clinics

Stanford Hospital & Clinics is known worldwide for advanced treatment of complex disorders in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer treatment, neurosciences, surgery, and organ transplants. Consistently ranked among the top institutions in the U.S. News & World Report annual list of “America’s Best Hospitals,” Stanford Hospital & Clinics is internationally recognized for translating medical breakthroughs into the care of patients. It is part of the Stanford University Medical Center, along with the Stanford University School of Medicine and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. For more information, visit


Stanford Hospital & Clinics
Liat Kobza, 650-723-1462 (Media)
[email protected]
Sara Wykes (Writer)
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