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Patients Take Back Control with Technology

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, April 10, 2012

Using a keypad, "they can actually preprogram their card for their music, their scenery, their temperature, and their color scheme," says administrator Jennifer Schaab. During any future visits, the card remembers these previously set preferences and more—even video—from the minute they walk in the door until the minute they leave.

For patients receiving radiation 10 to 30 times, "usually radiation is not something you want to remember," Schaab says. "This just helps to relax them and give them the control back again."

Perhaps the first center of its kind in the U.S. to employ this technology, the Disney Family Cancer Center was a project of the family of Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney and a longtime executive at The Walt Disney Company. The family worked with the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, where the Cancer Center is located, to raise the money through their foundations to build and operate the center.

I believe that what they've built is a harbinger of a kind of personalized ambience that eventually will inform a lot of patient care both inside and outside of hospital walls. The technology involved, like many that came before, is riding down the cost curve from rich person's plaything to another tool in the modern architect's toolbox.

Right now, the Disney Family Cancer Center is a showcase for several vendors whose technology went into building the environment, Schaab says. "Elekta provided all of our machines and our electronic medical record, JCI is the liaison that had to connect all of our different systems together, and Connexall is what we used for this RFID system," she says.

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