Ochsner's Optimal Hospital adds apps for doctors, nurses, patients

By Jonah Comstock
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New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System, which has been on the leading edge of adoption for a number of healthcare innovations in the past, is introducing a new program called Optimal Hospital that encompasses a number of different apps and devices to “improve workflow efficiencies in managing patient care, initiating more frequent and dynamic patient interaction,” according to the health system.

Several aspects of the program are Epic apps, like the Haiku app for iPhone and Apple Watch, the Canto app on iPad, Epic Rover on iPhone, and the MyChart Bedside app. They’re also using the Sotera Wireless ViSi Mobile System to monitor patients.

The system is mostly about optimizing communications. Haiku gives physicians access to their patient lists, hospital admissions and discharges, and patient records via their iPhone or Apple Watch. On Canto on the iPad they can see test results, current data, and trending reports. Epic Rover is an iPhone app that allows nurses to scan the barcodes on patient wristbands, as a preventive measure against medication errors. Ochsner has a hybrid BYOD-hospital provided infrastructure, where physicians mostly work on their personal devices, but the hospital supplies devices to nurses and some hospitalists and medical students.

The MyChart Bedside app is patient-facing and will be provided to patients along with an iPad. It allows hospitalized patients to view their exam and treatment schedules, their lab results, their medications and vital signs, and educational material related to their condition.

“Often in hospitalizations across the globe, you’re sort of deprived of your own personal control,” Dr. Richard Milani, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, at Ochsner told MobiHealthNews. “You’ve got a lot of people coming and going, you’re not sure what happened to you, you’re not always sure what’s happening to you next … The MyChart App identifies, both by pictures and by words, who your treatment team is. That often doesn’t happen in the hospital setting. It goes on to show you some results, so you see an itinerary, you can read about what medications you’re on.”

The app also gives the patient the ability to record interactions with their doctors to later play back for themselves and for family members that might not have been present for a consultation.

The ViSi Mobile System also integrates with Epic and sends patient monitoring information to a patient’s care team via their iPhones. Milani said that one of the biggest draws of Sotera is that the system allows patients to get up out of their beds and be mobile.

“That’s an important thing because if I just take a healthy you and I say, ‘You can’t get out of bed for three days’, even outside of a hospital setting, you’re not going to be as well off as you started,” Milani said. “So we know that making you immobile isn’t a good thing for people.”

Additionally, the system gives physicians the freedom to set their own thresholds for when the system will notify them about vital sign drops. 

Different parts of the program are being rolled out at different rates, with some still confined to an innovation wing in the hospital while others are already deployed across the hospital system.

Milani says the Optimized Hospital is a program that will continue to evolve as they become aware of new technologies that could fit into their workflow.

“Technology doesn’t stop and there’s always a better piece that might come around the corner that can help benefit any of these constituencies,” he said. “What we’re looking for is how can we best position our care teams and patients to get the best possible outcomes most efficiently. That’s the goal. So we’re always keeping an eye out for what’s on the horizon.”