New app gives ED patients aftercare instructions

Kris, a nurse at MSH, explaining how to use the Dash MD application in the ED.

By Andrew Schellenbach

Mr. Guido Alvarez, has been to other emergency departments (ED) in the past and found that the aftercare instructions he received upon discharge were not always clear. This can be expected given the fast-paced nature of any ED and the depth of instructions that patients may receive.

Many patients in the ED report feeling overwhelmed and may not be able to focus on instructions while at the hospital. These patients would prefer to review more information when they get home or with family. When Mr. Alvarez arrived at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH), he expected to have the same old experience. But this was not the case thanks to a new innovation project being piloted at MSH called Dash MD.

Dash MD is the first smartphone app of its kind for ED patients. It provides patients with treatment specific aftercare instructions, helps patients access relevant community care resources, and manage medications, appointments and contacts. Hospitals also receive valuable patient experience feedback through the app.

MSH is the first hospital to pilot this innovative technology. Dash MD brings together these important tools that benefit both patients on their recovery journey, and care providers in assisting those for whom they provide care. “This type of app can help take the care I receive to the next level,” says Mr. Alvarez. “The app has a ton of great info – much more than the paper pamphlets could hold.” This is just one example of why healthcare innovation is not just a buzzword at MSH – it is the MSH way of providing care.

In addition to learning more about his specific injury, Mr. Alvarez also used the ‘Discover Community Care’ section of the app to connect with the appropriate external care provider to aid his recovery. Early analysis shows that the ‘Discover Community Care’ section is the most used feature of Dash MD, followed by use of the ‘To Do’ Checklist, and the ‘Medication and Appointment’ tools.

“All patients leave the ED with discharge instructions, follow up plans, and appointments. Patients need to absorb so much information and it is challenging to remember all of it,” says Dr. Andrew Arcand, Chief of Emergency Medicine at MSH. “The app format for discharge instructions enables patients and their family members quick and easy access to important information wherever and whenever they need it.”

“Many people depend on a smart phone as an access point for information so it only makes sense to give patients an app to help with this,” says Dr. Arcand. This is supported by a recent study commissioned by Telus Health and Canada Health Infoway, that found over two thirds of Canadians own a smartphone and nearly nine in ten Canadians believe that digital health solutions will lead to better care.

As part of its strategic plan, MSH is working towards being a leader in healthcare innovation by combining the art of caring with the science of best practice. To meet this goal, MSH has an Office of Innovation with dedicated staff to focus exclusively on innovation.

“With greater need to be more efficient, innovation is a necessity,” says May Chang, the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer responsible for innovation at MSH. “Our communities have asked us to explore new healthcare delivery models. The Office of Innovation will take bold action to deliver results that matter to patients, and influence other hospitals and organizations.”

“As a sector, we have no choice but to embrace innovation. For many of us, that can mean moving outside of our comfort zone and accepting new ways of delivering care, while providing tools that our patients need,” says Jo-anne Marr, President and Chief Executive Officer, MSH.

The Office of Innovation is fostering a growing culture of innovation. As new partnerships are developed with high-quality health technology companies, MSH can provide patients with options that were not previously available. MSH also supports innovation across the region, and is looking forward to spreading innovations like Dash MD to other hospitals as a member of the Joint Centres for Transformative Healthcare Innovation. The Joint Centres is a collaboration of six hospitals in the GTA working together to share information and successes to improve patient care. Moving forward, the Office of Innovation will conduct more rigorous studies on patient experience and the impact that Dash MD has on the care the hospital delivers.

Dash MD Tools:

  • Aftercare Instructions – Easy access to instructions available on patients’ smartphones.
  • “To Do” Checklist – A list of recommended aftercare tasks for each condition listed, created by the MSH clinical team.
  • Symptoms – Patients can access common symptoms and depending on the severity of their symptoms they will be directed to the appropriate care provider.
  • Medication Manager – Patients can easily set alerts to manage their medication plan.
  • Appointment Manager – Patients can input and manage appointment details so that they do not miss appointments.
  • Discover Community Care – This can help patients get the care they need after leaving the hospital, connecting them with healthcare resources in the community.
  • Healthcare Contact Manager – Patients can keep track of the healthcare contacts relevant to their recovery.

Andrew Schellenbach is the Innovation Project Manager at Markham Stouffville Hospital.