Tablet, portal app help parents track children's health

Man tapping finger on tablet computer

Parents of hospitalized children responded positively when given a tablet computer with a portal application to keep them updated on their child’s care, according to research published at the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

The study involved 296 parents with children under 12 who were hospitalized in a general medical/surgical unit of an unnamed Wisconsin children’s hospital.

The application, tethered to the electronic health record, provided real-time information about treatment, medications, schedules and photos of the care team. It also allowed parents to make requests without using the call button and to message doctors and the care team.

The application worked only within the building, however, and parents expressed interest in being able to take it with them elsewhere. 

Almost 90 percent of parents reported that the portal helped reduce errors, yet 8 percent said they found errors in the child’s hospital medication list. Only 5.6 percent of parents used the portal to communicate with a nurse or doctor. The authors speculate that may have been due to a preference for communicating in person.

Fathers, younger parents, parents of children with a history of more hospitalizations and less-educated parents were more positive about the portal. Parents who had used other portals were less positive about it.

Suggestions for improvement of the tool included adding educational content, such as information about tests the child was undergoing, and linking to outside portal information.

To learn more:
- here's the report