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MyChart Bedside, Penn Medicine’s new digital tool, will be implemented at The Pavilion, Penn Med’s new hospital facility set to open later this year. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Penn Medicine’s new digital tool, MyChart Bedside, provides a centralized database of resources to empower inpatients and give them transparency during their hospital stays. 

The tool was piloted in April and will be implemented at The Pavilion, Penn Med’s new hospital facility set to open later this year. The new tool, accessible through hospital-owned iPads, gives inpatients a schedule of what will be happening during their hospital visit, up-to-date information about their health, photos and descriptions of members of their treatment team, and educational materials.

MyChart Bedside is distinct from MyPennMedicine — a digital tool Penn Med uses to engage outpatients — because it is catered towards inpatients, Senior Project Manager at Penn Med’s Information Services Poppy Bass said.

While MyPennMedicine allows outpatients to schedule appointments, view and refill their current medications, and look at lab results, MyChart Bedside allows inpatients to view their upcoming procedures and tests, the medications they will be receiving, and their treatment providers, Bass said.

“I think that sometimes when patients are in the hospital, they don’t have that transparency around what’s going on around them,” she said. “I really believe that this tool allows for that. And that, to me, is really powerful.”

Associate Director of Clinical Technology and Systems at Penn Med Sean Sarles described MyChart Bedside as an “extension of an electronic health record” that allows both inpatients and designated family members to be more involved in the patient’s medical care.

“MyChart Bedside and the information that it provides is, for us, a whole new realm of patient and family participation in [the patient’s] care,” Sarles said.

Sarles explained that patients will access MyChart Bedside from an iPad located in each room in The Pavilion, and a trained “ambassador” will demonstrate to the patient how to use the technology.

To ensure that patients’ data is private, each patient will use a specific pin number to access the iPad, while family members with approved access will use their own unique login to view the patient’s information, Sarles said. When a patient is discharged from the hospital or moved to a different room, their data is wiped from the iPad to prepare for the next patient. The iPads will not work if they are removed from the hospital.

Penn Med’s Associate Chief Medical Informatics Officer Neha Patel, who worked on the MyChart Bedside pilot alongside Bass and Sarles, added that the new tool allows the hospital to “mitigate the technology divide” by giving all patients equal access to the same technology. For patients who do not have smart devices at home, MyChart Bedside gives them the opportunity to learn how to use an iPad, view their patient portal, and ask their health care provider questions, Patel said.

MyChart Bedside’s design was influenced by feedback from nurses, social workers, health care providers, and members of the Pennsylvania Hospital’s Patient and Family Advisory Council — a group composed of patients and patient family members — Bass said. She noted that the members of PFAC provided a firsthand perspective on how MyChart Bedside can best support a patient’s hospital experience, a perspective she said was “invaluable.”

“A lot of times with us working in healthcare, we’re so focused on getting the job done and meeting deadlines,” she said. “I think having members of PFAC on our team kept us grounded.”

MyChart Bedside will likely be implemented in the months following the opening of The Pavilion once the staff is accustomed to the new building and its technology, Bass said. 

Patel said that Penn Med is looking to launch MyChart Bedside at its other hospitals, adding that patient portals have the opportunity to not only improve a patient’s hospital stay but to help them improve their health at home after the visit.