Giving patients the right information, at the right time, on a mobile device

By Allison Johnson

When Matthew Kaufman’s mother returned to her hospital room after emergency hip surgery, he says they were both feeling scared and anxious about what would happen next. They had plenty of questions, but did not want to trouble nurses while they were busy caring for other patients.

After downloading Windsor Regional Hospital’s new WRH MY CARE JOURNEY APP, Kaufman says he learned all about his mother’s fractured hip, what to expect while she was in the hospital, where she would go next, and how to prepare for her eventual return home.

“That immediately made us feel more at ease and in control,” Kaufman said. “It was such a relief and it answered questions we didn’t even know we had!”

The new WRH MY CARE JOURNEY APP helps patients and loved ones know what to expect during their treatments, so they can play a more active role in their recoveries and prepare for a safe discharge.

“In focus groups, patients told us the scariest part of being in the hospital is fear of the unknown. They also said that sometimes after receiving a life-altering diagnosis, they don’t fully hear, understand or appreciate what their care provider is saying,” says Karen McCullough, Windsor Regional Hospital Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Executive.

“The WRH MY CARE JOURNEY APP alleviates that fear by providing answers for patients in an easy to use format that is available to them at any time.”

mHealth: Healthcare on the go at The Ottawa Hospital

The app uses a diagnosis-specific timeline and interactive push notifications to keep users informed while they are in the hospital, and after they leave. It includes photos, videos and easy to understand language to let patients know:

  • What they can expect in the hospital (length of stay, possible tests, medication, members of their care team);
  • How they can participate in their treatment and recovery (diet, physical activity, etc.);
  • Detailed information about certain conditions (COPD, heart failure, hip fracture, etc.);
  • Helpful information for their visitors (parking, food, wifi password); and
  • Ways they can prepare for next steps in their journeys (follow up appointments, equipment for their homes, etc.).

The mobile tool is part of a larger initiative to standardize care at Windsor Regional Hospital and improve communication between patients and their care teams.

It was designed by a multidisciplinary team including physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, quality improvement experts, communication specialists and patients.

“Having patients at the table helped us understand what information they felt they needed for a safe recovery. With that, we programed the app with relevant content that anticipates patients’ questions and addresses their concerns,” says McCullough.

For those not comfortable using a mobile app, the information is also provided in brochures given to patients when they are admitted and on the hospital’s website where it is also available French, Arabic, Spanish and Italian.

The app also has useful information for family members and loved ones. Whether they are providing care at the bedside or live out town, friends and family members can download the app, and instantly become part of their loved one’s journey.

Kaufman says even though his mother does not use a smartphone, the WRH MY CARE JOURNEY APP played an important role in helping her get better.

“Once she found out I had the app and could look things up, she would ask me questions all the time.  It put her at ease and me as well.  I could go home and relax without worrying,” he says.  “If I had questions I could look them up at any point in time.”

The WRH MY CARE JOURNEY APP is free to download and available in the App Store and Google Play.

Allison Johnson is manager, communications at Windsor Regional Hospital.