When asked how Butler Hospital could improve the care experience for patients, members of the hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council all agreed that information was at the top of their list. Council members spoke candidly of the uneasiness they first felt upon being hospitalized with an illness they barely understood and of the fear that accompanied those feelings. “The unsafe feelings came about because I was in unfamiliar surroundings, with people I didn’t know, who had different behaviors that I didn’t understand,” expressed council member Trish Blake. In contrast, council members also talked about the relief that came from learning about their illness.
As Mettler stated in a 2001 study, “Information is care. When good information is given to patients, patients become partners in their own care.” In a 2003 study, Detmer and Singleton found that more informed patients begin treatment earlier, are more satisfied with their treatment, are more compliant with care instructions, and use emergency services less because of improved self-management.
Now, thanks to the support of a grant from the Rhode Island Foundation, Butler Hospital is offering a new form of care — information therapy. Mettler describes information therapy, or IX, as the delivery of specific information to a specific patient to better manage a specific health problem. To this end, IX is being offered at Butler through specially designed computer kiosks located right on the inpatient care units. Butler is the first hospital to offer patients information in this way.
Through computer kiosks, patients have direct access to information on their illnesses, their medications, and their patient care units. They are also able to view special videos produced by the members of the Patient and Family Advisory Council, who share their views about safety in the hospital, as well as their personal stories of recovery. Patients can use the kiosks either individually or as part of a group therapy session.
Designed for ease of use by patients, the kiosks offer a simple touch screen that directs patients to three key areas: Learn About Illnesses and Conditions, Learn About Medications, Learn About Community Resources. Each of these topics directly links to Web sites carefully selected for their comprehensiveness and accuracy by a group of Butler clinicians and support staff.
One of these sites is the Rhode Island Network of Care for Behavioral Health (RINOC). Supported by Butler Hospital, the site provides the most complete and up-to-date information on mental health services and providers in Rhode Island. Another feature of RINOC is the Personal Health Record, which enables patients to document their treatment plan.
In addition, RINOC provides information on how to advocate for mental health, including a listing of bills and referendums being considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly, and the dates and times of any public hearings. The goal is to familiarize patients with the RINOC site while they are hospitalized, in the hope that they will use this valuable information tool once they are home.
Available at Butler for just over a month, IX is showing promise. “The kiosks are helping patients feel more empowered and comfortable in seeking information about their illnesses, especially in the area of medications,” reports Jason Drapeau, a nurse at Butler who, along with activity therapist Nicole Desrochers, co-leads group therapy sessions on medications using the kiosks. “They offer patients an objective resource where they can lookup information about any concerns or questions they may have about a medication that has been prescribed to them.”
Drapeau emphasizes that the goal of the kiosks is not to replace the human factor that is vital to patient education, but to have it serve as an adjunct to enhance interactions with patients.
For more information about the kiosks, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.