ICU app fosters communication, data sharing between patients, caregivers

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston is developing a tablet-based app to keep intensive care unit patients and their family members informed and involved in treatment and recovery, and to drive better communication with care providers.

The MyICU app, funded by a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant, allows patients and family to access daily care data, pose questions and request meetings with ICU staff, in addition to gaining insight on how to help with a patient's recovery, according to an announcement. BIDMC is working with Aptima on the effort.

Patient and caregiver feedback during a three-month pilot, within two ICU units, was positive, though app integration into clinician workflow brought some challenges.

"We have actually found that people of all ages have interacted with MyICU," Kristin O'Reilly, RN, manager of critical care qualitytold FierceMobileHealthcare in an email interview. "Our admin team walks folks through the basics of the application and the iPad, and often assists them in entering some information to get them comfortable. From there most people are able to navigate the application quite well."

Often times, if an older family member is not as comfortable with technology or specifically an iPad, they will ask BIDMC team member to come back when another family member is present, such as a younger adult child or grandchild, O'Reilly said.

Improved app integration will be a development focus moving forward, as BIDMC hopes to roll out the tablet system to additional floors and other hospitals in 2016.

"It is, of course, an application competing with many other clinical systems in an extremely busy environment so finding the time to login to a separate system can be difficult for staff," O'Reilly said. "We hope to make it a bit more integrated in the future with improvements such as single sign-on."

Providers increasingly are embracing mHealth to foster better care, faster treatment and lower costs. Carolinas HealthCare System, for instance, has deployed an app that collects data from patient devices, tracks and monitors vital signs and allows users to share data with care providers. Meanwhile, a St. Louis counseling center is expanding its digital mental illness prevention and treatment toolkit by providing patients recommendations through apps. In addition, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and its Regional Hospital Network are readying a mobile app to boost communication and access to care providers.

The BIDMC effort, noted O'Reilly, is also providing an unexpected benefit in the ICU environment.

"We have found that most patient family users really appreciate being able to enter information about their loved one so that the care team has a more comprehensive vision of this patient outside of the hospital environment," she said. "Clinicians are also most drawn to this section. They truly enjoy seeing pictures of the patient and knowing more about what the patient did for a living, their likes and dislikes and who are the important people in their life."

For more information:
- read the announcement