Children's Mercy rolls out interactive patient engagement platform from GetWellNetwork

By Heather Mack
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Interactive patient engagement and education company GetWellNetwork has added a new client to its roster: Children’s Mercy, in Kansas City, Missouri is now one of about 40 pediatric hospitals in the country to deploy GetWellNetwork’s platform, which is rooted in putting patients at the center of care by equipping them with digital tools and information to be an active participant in their treatment and condition management.

By providing tools for both patients and staff, the GetWellNetwork platform is designed to help hospitals guide patients and their families through self-management of their conditions, pre- and post-admission care, and overall health education while also improving hospitals’ outcome goals.

The interactive platform features videos, games, notifications and myriad other service-request features for the patient, and supportive tools for nurses and clinical staff. It is used in over 400 hospitals around the country, from 25-bed community hospitals to large hospital systems, including VA centers. Additionally, the platform also provides supportive services to nurses, doctors and other clinical staff by integrating with individual health organizations’ myriad electronic health record, communication, nurse call and scheduling systems.

The GetWellNetwork is particularly utilized by children’s hospitals, where kids are not only likely to embrace the technology, but also need to get used to the idea of being an active participant in their care.

“Most of these patients are in the hospital for serious, chronic respiratory illnesses or cancer. They are just really sick, and their parents have to take care of them and it’s the kind of situation where everyone needs to be really involved because it’s not going to be a quick experience with hospitals,” GetWellNetwork’s Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Nursing Officer Karen Drenkard told MobiHealthNews in an interview. “So, all of these hospitals we work with are very innovative, have real missions to manage and to teach their patients how to manage on their end.”

At Children’s Mercy, the full rollout of the GetWellNetwork platform follows a pilot, which was started in December, wherein the kid-friendly GetWellTown program was tested on SmartTVs in 50 patient rooms to engage and educate children and their families about their healthcare.

“At Children’s Mercy, we continually seek new ways to fulfill our vision to be an international leader recognized for advancing pediatric health and delivering optimal health outcomes through innovation,” Janis Smith, RN, Children’s Mercy senior director of clinical informatics and professional practice said in a statement. “Giving patients and their caregivers the tools to meet their individualized needs goes a long way to improving clinician-patient partnerships, especially with young patients who may not know how to express themselves or ask for exactly what they need.”

GetWellNetwork’s platform works across patient care continuums for all age populations and conditions, and health organizations utilize it based on specific “pathways”, or objectives, such as reducing readmissions of heart failure patients or ER visits for people with asthma.

The company was founded 15 years ago by Mike O’Neil, who was dealing with a non-Hodgkins lymphoma diagnosis at the age of 28 and felt frustrated by a sense of isolation in his care. He created GetWell to assist hospitals in guiding patients and their families through all steps of their care while instilling a sense of empowerment and reassurance in the patient.

“Anything that touches the patient that they would want to be able to have access to, we work with,” said Drenkard. “For the health organization, it starts with asking what are the clinical outcomes they are trying to achieve? We have contracts with all of the health IT vendors and are always adding more, and all the educational resources so we can get the best of everything and work like a content aggregator.”

That includes bringing in new features like wayfinding or the ability for patients to use a Nest-type tool to control the temperature in their room. The GetWellNetwork is also always making room for new technology.

“Over time, we’ve evolved, so we have our innovation hub called GetWellLabs and evaluate new technologies pretty much every month so we aren’t left in the dust,” said Drenkard, adding that the company is in the process of releasing a companion app to the platform. “But it’s not just about the TVs and the technology. It’s really about creating systems that help patients be engaged and really be involved in their care journey.”