Patient Briefcase reduces stress

Odense University Hospital in Denmark is currently conducting a telemedicine study allowing COPD patients to participate in live video consultations without leaving the comfort of their living room. The new consultation practice has proved less stressful for both patients and nurses.

Hospitalisation is a stressful experience

The Patient Briefcase is about the size of a large laptop. It is easy to operate and allows care assistants to collect valuable data about the patient’s lung function and the amount of oxygen in the blood. This in turn helps nurses to provide patients with the information they need to master their chronic condition.

Patients recently diagnosed with COPD are often confused and insecure when discharged from hospital. “Hospitalisation is a stressful experience and patients often forget important information such as how to take their medicine correctly” explains Bente Grøn, who is one of eight nurses conducting online consultations with COPD patients at Odense University Hospital.

A new approach to effective health care

The goal of the Patient Briefcase is to bring down the number of hospitalisations for patients diagnosed with COPD. However, there are several obvious advantages to the online consultations. Previously, nurses were able to visit 3-4 patients on an ordinary work day. Today, Bente Grøn and her colleagues consult three to four times as many without ever leaving the hospital. As a result the nurses can focus entirely on their interaction with the patients and do not need to adapt to changing environments while visiting patients.

But it is not only nurses that benefit from the new system. Transportation is often a hindrance for COPD patients short of air supply. Accordingly, daily consultations with a nurse in the comfort of their own homes are of great value to these patients.

New ways of seeing

In order to make sure that the Patient Briefcase is set up correctly a technician delivers the briefcase to the patient’s home and assists the patient through the first consultation. The nurses are all specially trained to consult patients on screen. However, they do not experience the computer as a barrier in their communication with the patient.

“I am often greeted by patients welcoming me to their living room”, says Bente Grøn, but admits that the nurses were distracted by the technology in the beginning. “Obtaining a holistic understanding of the patient through the screen requires training, since you cannot see the patient’s surroundings when you are not physically present, but there are other things you can look for”, explains Bente Grøn and underlines that real life consultation experience is crucial for the nurses to be able to interact professionally with patients via the Patient Briefcase.

Coming home safe

Patients are in daily contact with a nurse for 7 days following their discharge, and according to Bente Grøn the fear of technology usually disappears within 2 or 3 days. ”I normally ask them whether they have problems turning on the TV or picking up the phone, and I tell them that it is all they need to operate the Patient Briefcase. It is really very simple”, concludes Bente Grøn, who is impressed with the level of intimacy established during the online consultations. “The Patient Briefcase makes it easier for COPD patients to return home and continually incorporate new knowledge about their condition into their everyday lives”, states the experienced nurse.

For further information, please contact:

Anne Dichmann Sorknæs
Nurse, PhD and cand. cur.
Odense University Hospital and University of Southern Denmark

Hard evidence:

  • The Patient Briefcase is currently in use at SvendborgHospital and Odense University Hospital, Denmark 
  • More than 2500 consultations have already been carried out via the Patient Briefcase and new patients are included every morning.
  • Patients take home the Patient Briefcase for approximately 7 days
  • An online consultation lasts 10 to 30 minutes
  • The Patient Briefcase is developed as a cooperation between Odense University Hospital and MediSat®

(March 2011)

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