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A New Twist on Bedside TV

Monday January 14, 2008
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Phelps Memorial Hospital Medical Center, the only hospital in New York State to offer Allen Technologies’ bedside information and entertainment system, has the screens at each patient bedside in the Med-Surg, Obstetrics, and Pediatrics units.
(Courtesy of Phelps Memorial Hospital Center)
Seventeen-inch color television screens at each bedside are not only entertaining but essential sources of clinical information at Phelps Memorial Hospital Medical Center. The Sleepy Hollow hospital has what might be the most advanced framework in the country — the Allen Technologies Vigo OneTouch system.

What it offers
With a click of the mouse or a touch of the screen, nurses gain access to patients’ medical records, verify medications, and even view X-ray and other images. Patients have access (for a fee) to a full bedside entertainment and communications package, including e-mail, educational videos, “Movies on Demand,” and cable TV.

Patients can select basic cable and a phone at a reduced rate, but most select the premium option, says Rocco Larocco, manager of the MIS department at Phelps. “They can swipe their credit cards at the bedside and charge it,” he adds.
While the hospital used to have bedside televisions, they were traditional nine-inch black-and-white screens offering videos and cable. Today’s ramped-up computerized version features screens nearly double the size, with headphones to accommodate patients who want to watch movies while others are sleeping, says
Paula Graham, MS, RN, CNS, clinical coordinator, MIS, Phelps.
Conveniently, the clinical and patient entertainment options are tied to the one technology by Allen.

RNs take full advantage
“We've had Allen technology for approximately a year. Since then we’ve been encouraging nurses to use the bedside terminals for patient charting, assessments, or vitals; within the last month, we started using the bedside medication verification system,” Larocco says.

Graham says that nurses initially hesitated about using the system rather than the traditional paper documentation. When Graham and Larocco replaced the computer stylus with a mouse and keyboard, it helped them to get started.

Graham adds that nurses were also hesitant to interrupt patients' TV-watching to access information. But because most care often results in interrupting patients, they usually understand, adds Graham.


Paula Graham, RN
Benefits abound

Phelps Memorial Hospital Medical Center, the only hospital in New York State to offer Allen Technologies’ bedside information and entertainment system, has the screens at each patient bedside in the Med-Surg, Obstetrics, and Pediatrics units.

Benefits have increased patient satisfaction, especially because of the Internet capability. Graham also thinks that having bedside access to patients' medical records, documentation, and medication verification will increase patient safety, although the hospital does not yet have hard data to back this up.

Graham says that patient privacy issues are not a worry because nurses and other medical staff must access patient records and medication information with passwords.

In addition, they can turn the screens away from anyone who is not supposed to see the information. “If the nurse walks away and leaves information on the computer terminal, within seconds it will close out that session and go back to TV mode,” Larocco adds.

Larocco says that safety is the overriding reason for implementing the system. The fact that it is combined with patient entertainment options is icing on the cake.


Lisette Hilton is a frequent contributor to Nursing Spectrum and a freelance healthcare reporter. To comment on this story, e-mail editorNJ@nursingspectrum.com.
Benefits and drawbacks

According to Graham and
Larocco, the benefits of having
the Allen Technologies Vigo
OneTouch at patient bedsides are —
• Safety that is associated with having
computerized access to patients' medical records and information, documentation, and drug verification right at the bedside
• Increased patient satisfaction because of the enhanced entertainment options

Initial drawbacks include —
• Nurses’ hesitance in using the new technology
• Nurses’ hesitance to interrupt patient use
of the system
• Longer time associated with medication
verification by computer versus the traditional paper sign-off

For more information, go to:
http://www.allentek.com/.