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    Patients stay connected to family, friends, and providers with Bedside

Beginning last year, more than 2,000 Mayo-owned iPads have been distributed across Mayo Clinic hospitals to support the Epic application known as Bedside. 

Bedside is a tablet-based application managed by Mayo Clinic's Center for Connected Care. The application functions as an inpatient online portal with a variety of features such as letting patients view their vital signs, their daily schedules and even photos and information about their care teams.

Watch: How pediatric patients can use Bedside

Family and Friends Option

During the COVID-19 response, some Mayo Clinic hospital patients have lost connections to their family and friends. Many patients have used their own smart phones or tablets to stay connected but not all patients have their own mobile devices.

Most inpatient units do have access to the Mayo-owned iPads used for Bedside. Recognizing the need to keep patients connected with loved ones, Mayo Clinic's Center for Connected Care, Nursing Department, and IT worked together to develop a way to let patients use these iPads as communication tools.

To meet this need, Zoom software was uploaded to all the Bedside tablets. Then, two use cases were discussed and implemented. "One use case is when the patient is stable and has the functional capacity to operate the iPad and use Zoom," says Julie Prigge, operations administrator for the Center for Connected Care. "The other is when the patient has limited functionality. In this case, hospital staff can facilitate a Zoom connection on behalf of the patient." 

This use of Zoom is activated through a non-HIPAA compliant domain. "This isn't any different than when patients use Zoom on their own devices. If Mayo staff are present during Zoom connections or any other conversations, they must ensure their own compliance with HIPAA," says Kim Pollock, Mayo Clinic nursing administrator. "While this use may not be HIPAA compliant, Zoom has taken great steps to protect users’ security." 

Provider to Patient Option

Uploading Zoom to the Bedside iPads also lets providers connect to patients in specific cases. When a Zoom connection is initiated by a Mayo Clinic provider, the provider uses the appropriately licensed technology to meet HIPAA guidelines. Patients can be assured that their privacy is being protected. An additional benefit of providers connecting with patients in isolation through Zoom on Bedside is the conservation of Personal Protective Equipment.

"It is vitally important that providers have the sense that care environments are safe," says Chris Colby, M.D., medical director for Bedside. "Using Zoom on the Bedside iPads reduces unnecessary trips in and out of a patient's room where the patient may have a highly contagious and infectious disease and maintains patient safety and connectivity with the care team."

"The current situation is challenging, but it has offered us the chance to be innovative in how we meet our patients’ needs," continues Dr. Colby.

Chad Weiler, a registered nurse who works in the Mankato Hospital in the intensive care unit agrees with Dr. Colby. He acknowledges that using Zoom on the Bedside tablets allows families to have a sense of being with their loved ones and the patients feel that their families are near them in this time of crisis. 

"I cared for a patient who was on life support and was not able to communicate with anyone because of the diagnosis," shares Weiler. "Zoom helped the patient’s son emotionally. He could see how ill his mother was. It helped him in making decisions and working with the health care team as to what his mother would want if and when it comes time to make hard decisions concerning continued care." 

Information in this post was accurate at the time of its posting. Due to the fluid nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific understanding along with guidelines and recommendations may have changed since the original publication date

Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for additional updates on COVID-19. For more information and all your COVID-19 coverage, go to the Mayo Clinic News Network and mayoclinic.org.