Edward, Elmhurst hospitals add screens to help doctors explain diagnoses

When cancer center doctors at Elmhurst Hospital enter exam rooms to deliver diagnoses, they now have a new tool to help make complex information more understandable: A TV-like touch-screen.

The screens, installed by a health information company called Outcome Health, allow doctors to pull up a digital image of the affected organ or system to use as a visual aide and teaching tool.

They're coming soon to the Edward Cancer Center in Naperville, along with the heart hospital, physician offices and waiting rooms throughout the Edward-Elmhurst Health system.

In partnership with Outcome Health, Edward-Elmhurst plans to roll out digital wall boards and tablet computers that display medical information to dozens of locations where patients could benefit from a greater understanding of their condition, treatment or medications, said Mary Lou Mastro, the health system's CEO.

Mastro, whose background is in nursing, said she wishes she had this technology when she was working with patients.

"In terms of patient education ... it's an incredible enhancement," Mastro said about the wall screens and tablets, which will be installed throughout the next year. "It's really reinforcing a lot of the information that is very important for patients to know."

Oncologists at the Nancy W. Knowles Cancer Center at Elmhurst Hospital say the wall boards in their exam rooms have been helpful for the past few months, especially when explaining to patients where their tumors are located, why their condition is in a certain stage and what will happen as the disease progresses.

"You can touch on an area and show the patient where they have a problem," Mastro said. "Patients can actually see what's going on."

Outcome Health has developed the information available on the screens and tablets, which CEO Rishi Shah describes as "actionable health intelligence." Some is meant to be used by doctors, such as animated, digital images of a beating heart, while other content is meant to be browsed by patients, such as information about nutrition, mobility, sleep, hygiene and oral care.

Edward-Elmhurst doctors have reviewed the information to ensure accuracy, and they can also record their own videos as another way to teach some of the 700,000 patients the system treats each year.

"When it comes to patient education, you can't tell someone something once and expect they know it. Repetition is the name of the game," Mastro said. "This helps engage the patients in understanding and managing their own illness, whatever that may be."

Tablets will be placed in infusion rooms where cancer patients spend hours receiving chemotherapy, and Mastro said this will help them take charge of their health outside hospital doors.

The addition of technology is one among Edward-Elmhurst's efforts to improve the patient experience and diminish what Mastro called "pain points," or breakdowns in communication that can occur throughout a patient's care, such as discharge from the hospital to a rehab center.

Mastro said 50 patients are journaling their experiences to help identify and fix such "pain points." Outcome Health officials are collaborating in these meetings to help streamline care, information and communication.

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