Hospital patients often suffer from TMI — not a disease, but the bombardment of too much complex information from doctors and nurses.
A steady stream of medication changes, therapy appointments or lab tests can drift in one ear and out the other, leaving patients confused and feeling like herded cattle.
When patients go to hospitals, "they just lose so much control," said Derek Ryan, a clinical manager at HealthEast's Bethesda Hospital.
The St. Paul hospital, which provides long-term care for complex brain, respiratory and other injuries, hopes new technology will change that by synthesizing medical data in a way that engages patients in their care.
Bethesda patients now receive the MyChart Bedside app by downloading it to their mobile devices or receiving tablets from the hospital. The app links to their medical records and provides patients with their vital signs, test results, therapies, medications and daily schedules.
"They get to plan their day ahead," Ryan said, "instead of having their day coming at them.''
The app works with Epic software, a leading system for electronic medical records. Bethesda is the second facility in the world to use it hospital-wide.
Patients can use the app to request blankets, water or other nonemergency needs, which saves time because nurses can bring the items to patients in one trip, Ryan said.
Jackie Schaar downloaded the app to her iPad eight weeks ago when she was hospitalized for lung complications from meningitis and an antibiotic-resistant staph infection.
In addition to monitoring her blood pressure and studying the side effects of her prescriptions, the 66-year-old retired chef used the app to learn more about thoracentesis — the removal of fluid from the chest cavity — that her doctors considered to reduce pressure on her lungs and improve her breathing.
"Without that knowledge, I wouldn't know the side effects [to expect]. And it's been kind of iffy with me; should I do it or shouldn't I do it?" she said.
HealthEast adopted the app at Bethesda, where patients stay four weeks on average, but will add it at its acute-stay hospitals in the East Metro as well.
Schaar is looking forward to going home and making a batch of chicken soup. Access to her health data lets her know if she is making progress and what she needs to do to help, she said. "You've gotta be one step ahead of your health."