February 09, 2004

Medical Internet Terminals

Patients getting wired in hospital beds

February 8, 2004


HOUSTON -- For someone suddenly hospitalized at 4 a.m., Rita Wright was surprisingly upbeat.

A day after being admitted with a painful partial bowel obstruction, Wright was expecting a secluded stay in a sterile hospital room. But to her relief, she was greeted by a technological surprise at Memorial Hermann Memorial City Hospital: a computer screen above her bed allowing her to keep in touch with family, friends and work over the Internet.

''You can do a lot of stuff in the hospital while you're waiting. I just love it,'' Wright, a 58-year-old real estate agent, said recently while sitting up in her bed and perusing her company's Web site.

The hospital is among the few around the country using the Pyxis PatientStation, a personal computer with a virtual keyboard that allows patients to go online, check e-mail, watch television, listen to the radio and play games.

Hospital officials are hoping for even more uses for the PatientStation, excited by its potential to improve patient care through automated record keeping and to dispense medications.

The system consists of a 15-inch flat touch screen attached to a movable metallic arm mounted to the floor. Patients can touch the screen to tune in to local TV channels, learn about the hospital or watch relaxation videos. They can access cable TV channels, high-speed Internet service, four radio stations and 20 games.

Although rates vary with each city, Memorial City charges $9.95 a day for the service for the first 10 days, and then it's free.

The PatientStation, made by San Diego-based Pyxis Corp., has a small digital camera mounted on top. The company is hoping to incorporate technology allowing people to instantly e-mail pictures of newborn babies and allow doctors to record video messages for patients.

Detroit Medical Center was the first to use the device, in late 2002. The Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, Calif., and the Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System in Morristown, Tenn., also have installed PatientStation. Twenty-four hospitals across the country have signed up for the device, and about 1,000 units are in use.

At the Houston hospital, 121 beds have the PatientStation. The entire Memorial Hermann Hospital System is planning to use it within 18 months.

Wayne Voss, CEO at Memorial City, said one patient told him he forgot about his pain by playing some of the system's games.

''Instead of giving him a narcotic, give him some entertainment, get [his] mind off of it,'' he said. ''It's a high-touch, high-tech way to bring the whole patient stay to a different level.''

Davis said the technology's potential will actually mean more human contact between patients and health care providers because more work will take place inside the room. She thinks it will be a good education tool, too.


Patients getting wired in hospital beds

Posted by Craig at February 9, 2004 10:26 PM