Since the Ebola crisis, the Washington D.C VA Medical Center www.washingtondc.va.gov has taken action to reduce exposure risks for VA clinical staff and patients to treat patients suspected of having a highly transmissible infectious disease. To find the solution, the VA has implemented mobile technology to be used by both patients and providers.
“We needed to find a better way to minimize exposure for the healthcare team so we began to use the iPad to communicate with patients so we can reduce unnecessary in-person risk.”, explained Dr. Philip Seton, Chief of the Emergency Department (ED) at the Washington D.C VAMC.
Dr. Seton’s ED team received several iPads as part of the VA Mobile Health Provider Program http://mobile.va.gov/providers. The iPads enable on-the-go access to VA email, the VA App Catalog, commercial mHealth apps, and Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities in the medical center as well as off-site.
The new protocol begins as soon as a patient arrives at the Emergency Department and is identified as possibly having a high-risk highly transmittable infectious disease. The patient is immediately moved to an isolation room with a nurse who teaches the patient how to use the iPad.
During the isolation period, any physician, infectious disease consultant, nurse, or other providers can use the iPad to communicate with the patient to remotely to collect the patient’s history and to evaluate if a high-risk infectious disease is present. The mobile devices are also equipped with cases that are waterproof, dirt proof, and easy to wipe down with disinfectant solutions.