New iPad app helps heart surgery patients recover

April 5, 2012 2:55:09 PM PDT
As anyone who's ever had surgery well knows, being in the hospital after major surgery is no fun.

Healing involves some pain, discomfort and, uncertainty.

But there's an experiment in progress which is bringing the new technology to the bedside right after surgery.

The iPad is helping Randy Sterner recover from heart surgery.

"The iPad is a nice way to navigate through some of these resources and keep track on a daily basis that you're doing things you need to do to keep your recovery going," Sterner said.

"What the iPad does is allow patients to access their plan of care," said David Cook, M.D., Mayo Clinic Anesthesiologist.

Dr. David Cook and colleagues designed the new iPad app because he saw a need that wasn't being met: clear, easy to understand information delivered when a patient needs it.

"We provide them with knowledge on their heart surgery and what's going to happen each day and what's normal and what's not," Dr. Cook said.

"I'm not a technology person, I'm really not," Sterner said.

But even for Sterner, the app is user friendly.

He can access educational videos and open different pages that ask him questions about things like pain and how much he's walked.

This information is immediately transferred to the health care team.

Even if a doctor is at home or in another area of the hospital, he or she has instant access to this information.

If problems arise, providers can act quickly.

It gives patients a sense of being in control at a time when many new and sometimes scary things are happening to them.

"It not only made him a part of the process, instead of being just a number, he was involved in what was happening to him," said Nancy Sterner, Randy's wife.

The iPad doesn't take the place of the human interaction that happens in the hospital.

Dr. Cook says, rather, it enhances it.

The iPad also helps family members get involved in a loved-one's care.

It's very secure: only people and providers with clearance can access the information.

Right now, the iPad is in a pilot program for heart surgery patients at Mayo Clinic who are over age 60.

Dr. Cook hopes to expand use to other areas such as orthopedics, heart failure, and obstetrics.

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