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The difference you can make when you're all for health.

Bedside app puts patient's health at his fingertips

James' life-threatening condition required a bone marrow transplant. It meant a month-long stay in the hospital, which can be difficult. But because James was a Highmark member being treated at Allegheny Health Network's (AHN) West Penn Hospital, he got to test the new MyChart Bedside app.* It gave him more control over his care and comfort. And a better hospital experience.

Through the app, he could ask for a pillow or for a snack when he was hungry. He could see the bios and photos of the members of his care team, and he could review his blood test results. Best of all, he could share details of his progress with his wife, Kim, when she called every day. It helped him stay positive during a challenging recovery, and the couple could focus on the next chapter of their lives.

James is Living Proof of how you can feel cared for and in control through the use of technology.

The journey toward recovery

James had a rare form of cancer called angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL). The cancer destroyed some of the blood cells in his bone marrow that fight infection. So James got a donor's healthy stem cells through a bone marrow transplant.

If the procedure works, the new stem cells will develop into red and white blood cells and platelets that function normally. "The first 100 days are the most crucial to see if the cells engraft," said James.

While James was recovering in AHN's West Penn Hospital, doctors monitored his blood counts closely and watched for side effects. Transplant patients often suffer from high fevers and need a lot of medication to help fight infections.

It was a very emotional time for James and Kim. Patients who get bone marrow transplants often feel lonely and isolated. It's tough to spend such a long time in the hospital away from your family.

Keeping patients informed and engaged

When a nurse offered James a digital tablet with the MyChart Beside app, it lifted his spirits. Highmark and AHN worked together to test the app with members like James. He kept the tablet, provided by Highmark, throughout his hospital stay so he could explore all the app features.

"It gave me a heads up," said James. "I knew what was going to happen each day."

He could monitor his test results with the app. "We could see how things were progressing," said Kim. "I could call him in the evening and find out what his temperature was that day. If he didn't remember, he could look it up."

James could also send messages to nurses. He could request a warm blanket or get help with bathing. This helped keep James occupied and involved in his care.

Helping more patients connect

It turns out that many other long-term care patients at West Penn shared James' and Kim's enthusiasm for the MyChart Bedside app. Highmark and AHN got positive responses from other bone marrow transplant patients who helped with the test. Families with children in the West Penn pediatrics unit also participated. They, too, liked the app.

Because of the app's success, Highmark and AHN are extending the technology to other units at West Penn. And patients will be able to access MyChart Bedside on their own devices.

"We're thrilled that patients have been so eager to embrace this new technology," said AHN Chief Medical Information Officer Robert White, MD. "Our top priority is to help ease the recovery process for those in need of long-term care. And treating patients' emotional needs is as important as treating them physically. When patients are engaged in the treatment process, they feel a sense of control over their well-being, and they're better able to cope with their situations."

It definitely made a difference in James' state of mind. And there are no signs of the cancer coming back.

"My last PET scan and MRI were negative," he said. "I'm getting better and stronger every day."

About MyChart

The new MyChart Bedside app that will soon be available is a component of the online MyChart tool. With MyChart, AHN patients can privately and securely manage their health care tasks and information from any location at any time. MyChart lets users:

  • Access health information 24/7
  • Send and receive online messages to and from doctors
  • Schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, and pay bills
  • See test results as soon as they're ready
  • Feel confident health records are private and secure

You may sign up for MyChart at any time through the AHN website.

*At this time, the MyChart Beside app is only available as part of a pilot to AHN patients who are Highmark members.

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