Connected Health 2015: Lessons learned from UCLA Health inpatient tablet pilot

Mobile apps and tools must be about the patient for engagement in order to last, Deidre Keeves, director if IT adoption and engagement at UCLA Health, said during the Connected Health Conference on Tuesday.

"It's really easy to get people interested in cool technology solutions … they're fun to tinker with," she said. "But it's hard to get [patients] to keep using those solutions, so you have to make it personal and you have to make it about them."

UCLA Health is making patients part of the process through a patient-focused technology council, which it implemented this past year. Patients can volunteer to be on the council, and every quarter they meet with staff to give feedback on the health system's tools, Keeve said.

The health system also recently began rolling out a pilot inpatient tablet program, relying heavily on patient feedback to make the tool as effective as possible.

The pilot was started in two units, the oncology unit and the cardiac observation unit. Content originally included Web access, entertainment apps, social media and email capabilities as well as access to the hospital's outpatient patient portal.

Findings from the pilot included positives and negatives, Keeves said, which included:

  • The good: Patients really liked the entertainment apps and being able to access the Internet. They also enjoyed checking their labs. "They loved the information that was about them." So we "needed to dive into those areas, have even more content that's about the patient and their health," Keeves said.
  • The bad: For privacy, they had to do a factory reset of the devices after every use. A mobile device management solution was in place, she said, but required an IT person to log in and reset the device. Another unexpected issue, she added, was that many patients brought their tablets with them and didn't use the hospital-issued one.

Based on the findings from the first pilot, the health system made changes in the second rollout, she said. There were smaller ones, like more scalable resets, as well as a bigger change--layering in the inpatient patient portal, MyChart. That feature gave patients access to more advanced information about their treatment, such as what member of their team would be caring for them that day and status of their care.

"My favorite quote [after this went live] was from a patient that had been in the hospital for four days and he said 'I learned more about my condition looking at this tablet for the last 20 minutes that I did the whole rest of the hospitalization.' That floored me.

"Some people just learn differently, so people need to see it at their own pace and review the content in a way their pacing it themselves," she said.