• Article
  • September 7, 2021

How Technology in a Children's Hospital Can Help Anxious Parents

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Digital tools can help calm anxious parents without adding to clinical workloads.

In children’s hospitals, every patient also comes with anxious parents or caregivers who look to clinicians for help throughout their child’s stay. Here are some ways digital tools can calm parents with the communication, confidence, convenience and comfort they need and want most while in the hospital—without adding to clinicians’ already full workloads.

Communication

With patients in children’s hospitals being too young to be independent decision-makers in their care, parents are key players in the care team. Digital displays that integrate with a hospital’s electronic health record and other systems can give parents easy access to condition-specific education, staff bios and messages, daily schedules and procedure details, and hospital information all available on demand and updated in real time.

These integrated features could be available on digital whiteboards, interactive televisions, tablets and a parent’s own mobile device.

“Information is empowering to parents who are worried about a sick or injured child,” says Austin Winberg, director of clinical outcomes at patient engagement technology provider at SONIFI Health. “Providing as much transparent communication as possible helps parents feel in the loop and self-assured in taking an active role in their child’s care.”

Confidence

In addition to delivering clear communications and up-to-date information while the patient is admitted, you can also give parents confidence in knowing what to expect after discharge.

“A digital discharge checklist and link to your hospital’s patient portal show parents details about follow-up appointments and who to contact with questions,” Winberg says. “It’s also where they can find instructions or education for things like wound care, medications or using assistive equipment at home.”

When parents feel well-prepared to care for their child after they leave the hospital, it also sets patients up for successful post-discharge outcomes and lowers their risk of readmission.

Convenience

Parents usually don’t want to leave their child’s side in the hospital. Convenient service options available in the patient room help give parents an accommodating sense of control as they focus on soothing their child. Smart room integrations with your building automation system can let parents autonomously adjust the temperature or lighting in the room, without calling a nurse or waiting for environmental services.

TV or voice controls can be used to submit requests—such as asking for an extra blanket, a visit from a spiritual leader, food orders, or special services your hospital offers—giving a concierge-like feel to their experience. “You can set up these requests to go directly to the applicable staff with immediate notifications,” Winberg says, “making responses quicker for the family, without interrupting nursing workflows.”

Comfort

Sometimes familiar comforts are exactly what’s needed to ease anxiety and calm nerves. Content like on-demand movies, TV programming, music, games, relaxation content, and streaming options in patient rooms offer positive distractions that comfort and even delight patients and families when and where they need it most.

Learn more about the effect of positive distractions in an October 5 webinar, “A positive distraction: How digital content can improve patient experience and care in children’s hospitals.”

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