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To facilitate better patient communication and enhance patient recovery, the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) introduced a new technology, "Smart Suites," during four informational sessions July 13.

The technology was designed by a healthcare solutions corporation and will integrate with existing technologies when Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda (WRNMMCB) opens its doors.

The initial 165 Smart Suites will bring world-class capabilities to the medical centers, said Vicki Snavely, who presented the new technologies during the sessions held in the Memorial Auditorium. The suites will be available in all Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) rooms at first and are slated to be implemented in the Medical/Surgical Wards and Mother-Infant Care Center in Building 9, on floors five and six respectively.

"The Smart Suite combines innovative technologies, medical device interoperability, and workflow solutions to improve patient care and clinician efficiencies. The Smart Suite [also] incorporates key elements of the patient, family, and clinical experience in order to streamline the care process," said Snavely.

"This technology will improve clinical efficiency and patient care by incorporating key elements of patient and clinician experience to automate workflows and coordinate care," said Capt. Wanda Richards, assistant deputy commander for Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and nursing integration.

Smart Suites feature smart beds, bedside entertainment, two-way communication devices, audiovisual technologies and wireless capabilities - all controlled via a wall mounted, removable keyboard. The rooms also allow medical providers to monitor their patients' bed status, position and activity through alerts and facilitate communication with the patient through call systems.

"We're a patient, family centered care center and this technology will help patients' with their recovery [by accommodating that]," said Richards. "They can pull up photos of loved ones and read e-mails . all with their wireless keyboard. These rooms will help them stay connected."

Snavely went on to note two unique features of the room - "CareAware MyStation" and "RoomLink." MyStation allows patients and their families to actively participate in the patient's recovery based on a six-part healthcare communication system:

• My Hospital provides information regarding the hospital/health system, including mission statements, lists of services, welcome video and facility maps. Additionally it can provide information about the surrounding area, such as hotel and restaurant information.

• My Education gives patients health education options including electronic documents and interactive education. They can also watch educational and demonstrative videos whenever they like or need too.

• My Schedule, presents the patient with a representation of specific events for the day including tasks. Events posted include scheduled tests, chapel services and hospital events as well as a specific task list such as exercise and patient education.

• My Opinion allows patients to provide real-time feedback regarding their stay--eliminating the delay associated with standard written survey results.

• My Health Notes offers patients information regarding their personal health record by leveraging a Web application that allows patients the ability to actively manage their medical records, explained Snavely, adding that in My Health Notes, patients - and their families - can record reminders; things that need to be followed up on regarding their care or disease process.

• My Care Team introduces providers, nurses and support staff to the patient digitally, with a photo, and allows patients to know when that particular doctor has entered the room by displaying the physician's information on a television screen in the room. When no one is in the room, the patient can still access information about their medical team on the same screen. RoomLink is an electronic sign that's placed outside patient rooms, which displays information about the patient, such as allergies. Patients can also update the status, from their MyStation device, to read "Do Not Disturb."

The suites will also be integrated with Military Health System Clinical systems to give clinicians a single platform on which to view electronic medical records and device data.

"Smart Suites are going to enhance the quality of patient care by providing information to our clinicians, patients and their families in a real time environment," said Dr. Joan Gordon, lead transition coordinator for education and training at NNMC.

"These technologies enrich the journey to becoming a world-class hospital." Added Richards, "This is exciting. With these new Smart Suites and all of its capabilities, patients may not want to go home."

For more information about Smart Suites, e-mail Richards at wanda.richardsmed.navy.mil.