Keeping Loved Ones Abreast: Pushing Updates During Lockdown Without Bogging Down Clinical Work

With the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, US hospitals have been restricting their visitation policies to protect both patients and staff. While those now barred from visiting can still support their loved ones using phone calls and video chats, not all patients are in the position to interact.

This puts pressure on call centers and health workers who already have their hands full dealing with the growing crisis.

How do we keep patients’ loved ones updated about their care without swamping call centers and impeding on the clinical work?

The solution needs to be quick to implement, easy to use, while still providing the necessary privacy protections. That means starting development of full-featured mobile apps for loved ones is out of the question—unless, of course, the hospital has already invested in developing such an app in the past.

With our help, one 637-bed hospital system in Georgia came up with an innovative solution to this urgent challenge.

They made a web page with high-level updates about a patient without any clinical information. The page is refreshed at regular intervals and can be accessed via a private link per patient that’s sent via SMS to the registered loved ones.

As there is no need to login to simplify ease of access, it relies on the recipients to keep the link private. To strengthen privacy, we built the page without any identifiable patient information. Instead what users will see are just generalized remarks such as when the patient last ate, general remarks about their progress, and updates on key procedures.

A patient update page opened from the link received by a registered loved one

As an extra layer of security, the links are set to expire after a specified time.

A page opened from an expired link

This is a trying time for patients and staff, but it shouldn’t mean staying in the dark when it comes to loved ones in our care. We applaud hospitals like Navicent for being open to innovative solutions to the challenges that arise.