Objective - The Vanderbilt Children's Hospital launched an innovative Technology-Based Patient and Family Engagement Consult Service in 2014. This paper describes our initial experience with this service, characterizes health-related needs of families of hospitalized children, and details the technologies recommended to promote engagement and meet needs.
Materials and Methods - We retrospectively reviewed consult service documentation for patient characteristics, health-related needs, and consultation team recommendations. Needs were categorized using a consumer health needs taxonomy. Recommendations were classified by technology type.
Results - Twenty-two consultations were conducted with families of patients ranging in age from newborn to 15 years, most with new diagnoses or chronic illnesses. The consultation team identified 99 health-related needs (4.5 per consultation) and made 166 recommendations (7.5 per consultation, 1.7 per need). Need categories included 38 informational needs, 26 medical needs, 23 logistical needs, and 12 social needs. The most common recommendations were websites (50, 30%) and mobile applications (30, 18%). The most frequent recommendations by need category were websites for informational needs (39, 50%), mobile applications for medical needs (15, 40%), patient portals for logistical needs (12, 44%), and disease-specific support groups for social needs (19, 56%).
Discussion - Families of hospitalized pediatric patients have a variety of health-related needs, many of which could be addressed by technology recommendations from an engagement consult service.
Conclusion - This service is the first of its kind, offering a potentially generalizable and scalable approach to assessing health-related needs, meeting them with technologies, and promoting patient and family engagement in the inpatient setting.
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