There you lay in a hospital bed, alone
and anxious, wondering about your condition and wanting
to shut that light off, which seems just out of reach.
Not wanting to bother the nurse, you stare at the ceiling.
The patient you share your room with is snoring loudly,
and his family has taken the extra chair from your side
of the room.
Earlier in the day, when the doctor spoke
to you, everything seemed to make so much sense about
your condition. But now, looking back, you have lots
of unanswered questions. In fact, you realize that you
knew more about the last car you were buying than about
your surgery next Tuesday.
You wonder why your hospital stay has
to be like this.
So does Saint Lukes Northland Hospital.
Thats why they embarked on the largest expansion
in their history, adding two new patient floors on the
east wing of their hospital that feature 31 private
patient beds, the newest and most up-to-date hospital
rooms in the region.
At 340 square feet, the private, hotel-like
rooms are the biggest in the area. Decorative wood paneling
replaces plaster, colorful mosaic-like tiles replace
dull, lifeless metal doorjambs. 42-inch plasma televisions
adorn the walls where little, 12-inch black and whites
used to be bolted. The sofa is a fold out futon style
couch, not a creeky, bar-in-your-back cot.
On the patients lap, next to the
light controls, is a wireless keyboard a gateway
to the information superhighway and yes, even movies
For the hospital, the network the patient
can tap into is nearly as important as the room upgrades
Basically, we knew and we know that
consumers are continuing to educate themselves and they
want to keep themselves informed on things, said
Kevin Trimble, Saint Lukes Northland Hospital
senior vice president. Healthcare literacy is
a growing issue where people want to know more about
what is going on with them and their condition. We needed
to create something to meet that demand.
Trimble said the hospital started designing
their own, proprietary system but soon learned of a
Washington DC based company called Get Well Networks,
a healthcare interactive services firm that specialized
in the type of system Trimble was looking for.
Like Saint Lukes, the solution was
borne out of critically assessing a hospital stay. While
recovering from stomach surgery to remove a malignant
tumor in 1999, Get Well Networks began from a hospital
bed at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland. There, company
founder, Michael ONeil, realized that he was going
crazy, unable to use a phone or check email, watching
television on a small, snowy 13-inch television set
with poor sound.
Its less about being bored
and more about being unempowered, ONeil
said of his frustrations.
Now, Get Well Networks is an industry
leader, with 15 hospitals in the country using ONeils
system. Saint Lukes will be just the second installation
west of the Mississippi.
They knew they wanted to do some
interactive stuff at the bedside, ONeil
recounted. I flew out one day, and theyve
been great to work with. Were thrilled to be there.
Its a beautiful unit.
ONeal credited Trimble with being
the driving force behind the project.
A lot of hospitals purchase technology,
and to our company, the technology is the easy apart.
The important part is the collaboration, to collaborate
with the hospital and leverage the technology. At Saint
Lukes, we didnt just wire new computers,
we worked with them in an intellectual way in order
to create an experience.
So far, Trimble is upbeat with the results,
which will be unveiled to the public on June 19.
The value is that patients are more
empowered. They will become more educated on their disease
process have access to resources about those processes,
and recommended treatments. When people have knowledge
they are able to take accountability for their healthcare.
Theyre able to take control of their healthcare.
With the network, patients will be able
to view hospital sponsored educational materials (both
video and text based) that are focused on their condition.
They can search the web for relevant health information
and personalize their healthcare experience by accessing
their patient record or chatting with their doctor.
Its one of those things that
you show people and everyone you show has an idea of
how you can add to it.
Trimble said that thanks to input, the
hospital system now offers a daily devotional that can
be hyperlinked to the patients individual faith.
The system also contains a welcome message from the
hospital that plays when the patient turns the system
on for the first time. Still, Trimble guesses that families
of the patient will use the system nearly just as much
as the patient, either on a visit or to access their
loved ones condition which can be posted on an
When completed in 2005, the $39 million
expansion will be the largest in the hospitals