Tech Support At The Hospital? Morristown Medical Center Says “Why Not”
Leaders of Morristown Medical Center recognized that the role technology plays in healthcare is growing and that the hospital could serve as a venue where patients and staff learn about new health tools.
Last fall, a retail space was opened off the hospital’s main lobby. Named HealtheConnect, it’s where patients and staff can go to learn about the latest health apps, get help downloading programs to their smartphone or tablet, or buy the latest hardware, such as wearable fitness trackers and digital scales.
Staffed by an IT professional with clinical skills, the store is designed as a destination for patients and family members to visit before they leave the facility.
“We think it’s the right place to have it, because when people are in the hospital they’re highly motivated to think about their own health,” says Dr. David Shulkin, president of Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J.).
Modeled after Apple’s Genius bar, the 300-square-foot space, which once housed the hospital cashier’s office, offers an efficient space plan and layout for monitors, tablets, and other devices, as well as multiple seating options and a small retail space at the back.
Sara Gally, interior designer at Francis Cauffman (Philadelphia), says designers kept the materials palette simple and clean to reflect the technology focus, including backpainted glass, 8-by-2-foot acoustical ceiling panels, and luxury vinyl tile flooring. Walnut-colored corner storage units add texture to the predominantly white setting.
So far, the most frequent requests are for help in using technology that visitors already own and learning a new app. Staff members are also stopping by on their lunch breaks to take advantage of the services.
“It helps merge healthcare and technology in an inviting way,” says Robert Peake, director of facilities and construction for Atlantic Health System. “[We’re] trying to take the frustration out of it and make it accessible to many people.”
Peake says Atlantic Health is monitoring the concept before deciding to roll it out to other locations.
“There’s a need, especially among older patients who are coming in,” he says. “The younger generation is growing up with this, but the older generation is playing catch-up and we want to be there to help them with that.”