The connected patient

A peek inside Stanford's new digitally driven hospital

It’s easy to see how the new Stanford Hospital will look now that the exterior is complete; the interiors are built out; and the furniture, equipment and art are being installed. Less visible but equally important is how the new hospital will feel to patients when it opens this fall.

(From left) Rajiv Ramdeo, lead communications engineer; Alpa Vyas, vice president of patient experience; and Ann-Marie Yap, executive director of technology.
Steve Fisch

Multiple teams throughout the hospital have helped create a digitally driven patient experience that matches the majestic façade of the new structure, said Alpa Vyas, vice president of patient experience for Stanford Health Care. “The service and the culture we create inside must complement and enhance the physical environment.” 

From the moment patients and family members come through the doors of the new Stanford Hospital, a compassionate team of caregivers and staff will shepherd them through their health care journey. Digital tools developed specifically for the new space will also assist them: Teams at Stanford are designing a patient experience that will take advantage of smartphone technology to guide them through their inpatient visit. 

Digital companion

Stanford’s MyHealth app will act as the digital companion for patients at the new Stanford Hospital, said Aditya Bhasin, vice president of software for Stanford Health Care. Patients can check in using MyHealth and speed up the admitting process before their scheduled surgery or inpatient stay. The app will also remind them about appointments and provide step-by-step directions to locations within the building. For example, the app can guide patients from the parking garage to the laboratory to the infusion treatment area and back again. 

“Navigating a large medical campus can be confusing,” said Vyas, noting that it’s especially difficult for patients who are already consumed by anxiety or worry about their health or the health of a loved one. The way-finding capability within MyHealth is one way of quelling that stress and improving the experience, she said. 

More than 500,000 people are using MyHealth for their outpatient care at Stanford Health Care; the software team is now enhancing the app for patients staying at Stanford Hospital. 

For those inpatients, health information will show up on their MyHealth account before, during and after a hospital stay. “We want the technology to be a digital companion for our patients, helping them transition from the outpatient clinic to the inpatient setting and back home once they’re discharged,” said Bhasin. “We are building location awareness and health information content into our digital platform. As a result, we will know where patients are in their journey, and provide them with relevant information throughout their continuum of care.”

Vyas says hospital patients will be able to control their environment from their beds.
Steve Fisch

Every room in the new Stanford Hospital will be private and equipped with a 55-inch television screen, an iPad and a bedside remote. Using a keypad, patients can select movies, on-demand TV, music, relaxation videos, white noise, spiritual content and patient education information; they can also stream their own content into the entertainment system.

“The system was initially developed for the hospitality industry, so the user interface is extremely intuitive and easy to navigate,” said Briana Lawson, project manager for the interactive patient experience. “Patients will be able to have an entertainment experience that’s closer to what they have at home.” 

Additional family space has been designed into every patient room, with plug-ins for electronic devices and storage for personal belongings. Patients will also be able to control the temperature of their room as well as the lighting and window blinds — all without getting out of bed. 

“We understand that people feel very vulnerable as patients in a hospital bed,” said Vyas. “When designing the patient rooms, we looked at some of the small things we can put back into the hands of our patients to give them a sense of control over their environment.” 

Every patient at Stanford Hospital is cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, therapists, caseworkers and support staff who must work together to coordinate services and manage a patient’s return to health. Improving caregivers’ ability to communicate and collaborate easily — in a way that protects patient privacy — was a priority, especially as the caregivers move into the larger space of the new hospital, said Vyas. 

Stanford has implemented a secure messaging platform that allows care teams to communicate about a patient’s personal health information in a protected environment, said Troy Foster, senior manager for network infrastructure. “It provides seamless communication between all members of a treatment team via phone call or text,” he said. It also eliminates a lot of searching for team members when a question arises. The system runs on iPhones and is being used by more than 3,500 physicians and 2,000 nursing and ancillary staff. On an average day, 30,000 text messages and 6,000 calls are transmitted through the messaging platform. 

“It’s a faster way for care teams to collaborate on patient care,” said Ann-Marie Yap, executive director of technology. “It really increases our efficiency.”

“From a patient experience perspective, we are looking at how technology can help automate processes so team members have more time to focus on patient care,” said Vyas. Care teams and staff are currently testing and refining many of these new capabilities in the existing hospital before they are implemented in the new Stanford Hospital. “We want to get people comfortable with using all the new technology before we move into the new space so they can be ready to care for our patients.”