BOSTON – If you or a loved one has ever spent time in a hospital intensive care unit (ICU), you know how overwhelming it can feel. The medical language, the equipment and the number of doctors, nurses and other clinicians providing care can be a lot to take in at a difficult time. MyICU, a new two-way communication tool created by patients, family members, clinicians and others at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), aims to help make the ICU stay a little bit better.
“When your loved one is in the intensive care unit, there’s so much information coming at you at once – it’s really hard to process all of it,” said Erica Dente, a member of BIDMC’s Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC). “MyICU is something my family and I would have appreciated when our mom was in the ICU. I know patients and families will appreciate the enhanced communication and feel part of the team by having this central place for important information they can go to whenever they want.”
BIDMC’s MyICU team of doctors, nurses, social workers and health care quality experts spent months working with members of the PFAC members and ICU staff gathering information about what kind of resource would be most helpful to patients and families. The team then collaborated with Aptima – a technology company with expertise in functional design – to create the easy to use MyICU app.
Each ICU room is equipped with an iPad that contains the MyICU app. Patients are assigned a secure login that can be shared with family members to access MyICU on the iPad or from personal devices. The app allows users to learn more about the patient’s medical condition, get to know members of the BIDMC care team and upload information and photos about the patient.
"We want to know who our patients are when they’re healthy, what they look like, what kinds of things they like to do,” said Barbara Sarnoff Lee, LICSW, Senior Director of Social Work and Patient and Family Engagement. “When we know more about the person before they were sick, it helps us as caregivers be in better sync with the patient’s and family’s goals for care.”
MyICU also has information about how family members can participate in care if they want to and a section that lists the tests and procedures that can be expected on a given day. The app provides a convenient way for patients and family members to ask questions of the care team whenever they come to mind, jot down information they want to discuss with providers and request a family meeting with the care team.
"We hope these features will make things easier for patients and families by giving them the information they want and encouraging information sharing in between face-to-face conversations with care providers,” said Kristin O’Reilly, RN, Manager of Critical Care Quality.
A section of MyICU that is available only to the patient and family members allows patients and families to keep a running journal of personal and medical information. At the end of the ICU stay, the contents of the journal can be taken home.
"The MyICU journal can be a great resource for patients after they’ve gone home to help them piece together their hospital stay and know, for example, what medical care was delivered when, who came to visit, what day they sat up for the first time or were able to get out of bed,” said O’Reilly. “Journal entries can help patients fill in memory gaps that can come after an intense hospital experience and help facilitate healing.”
MyICU is now available in two BIDMC intensive care units and will be available in all BIDMC ICUs in the coming months.
MyICU is an initiative of BIDMC and is funded by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation aimed at improving care and patient outcomes in ICUs across the United States. BIDMC is joined in this work by members of the Libretto Consortium made up of hospital partners at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Johns Hopkins Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.
"Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has a well-earned reputation for innovation to improve both patient safety and patient engagement while decreasing patient harm,” said Kenneth Sands, MD, Senior Vice President of Health Care Quality. “Our relationship with the Moore Foundation has allowed us to use technology to stay at the forefront of patient and family engagement, and MyICU is one of the key initiatives to come out of that relationship.”