How Virtual Visitor Carts Are Changing Patient-Visitor Interactions
By The Altus Team
Published Mar 26, 2021
| Updated Nov 16, 2022
| 5 min read
Virtual visitor carts and tablet carts allow hospitals to facilitate patient-visitor interactions and connect patients with loved ones. This connection boosts patient morale and can have a significant influence on their emotional and physical health. Medical providers know that patients experience better outcomes when they have support from family and loved ones. But since COVID-19, many hospitals have restricted their visitation policies.
Now more than ever medical providers must find new ways of facilitating patient-visitor interaction while keeping patients, visitors, and hospital staff safe. Telemedicine devices allow for intimate communication when visitors aren’t permitted. These carts shape patient-visitor interactions and provide numerous benefits to everyone involved. Below we outline how virtual visitor carts are changing the face of communication and care in the hospital setting.
1. Maintain HIPAA protocols
HIPAA expects healthcare facilities to maintain patient privacy standards at all costs. When patients welcome visitors into their hospital rooms, keeping things confidential is not the easiest. But in an age where hospitals impose restrictions on visitors, and all patient visits are virtual, keeping information private is even easier.
Hospital administrations work hard to maintain patient confidentiality. When considering how to facilitate virtual communication and include family members in a patient’s care plan, staff needs to determine which avenues have the security measures to maintain HIPAA privacy standards. Tablet carts allow patients—and doctors—to communicate with family while still meeting national privacy protocols, and video visits keep family and loved ones abreast of a patient’s situation when they can’t be there in person. These carts provide crystal clear communication that keeps hospitals within their regulations.
2. Families can find closure
Unfortunately, many families have had to say their final goodbyes via virtual visitor carts over the last few years. When critically ill patients enter a hospital, they might enter alone because of visitor restrictions, or the distance of their families. If it comes time for a patient’s life to come to an end, virtual visitor carts and telemedicine carts allow family members to find closure through precious conversations on the screen.
Telemedicine devices, like tablet carts, have boomed in popularity as the nation has learned to adapt to pandemic-related restrictions. But visitor carts will continue to prove useful even after the pandemic comes to an end. Telemedicine equipment and virtual visitor carts enable nurses to facilitate final conversations with family members who can’t be at the hospital for any number of reasons. In emergency situations, families can say goodbye if there’s simply not enough time to make it to their loved one’s bedside.
Virtual visitor carts allow families to support one another in these difficult situations. And because multiple users can enter a video call, these carts allow for many loved ones to engage in a call together. This technology provides closure when families face barriers to being present with their loved ones in their final moments.
3. Ease of use for patients
Tablet carts enable all patients to access their families via video messaging. Patients don’t have to own or even know how to operate a smartphone to reap the benefits of personal engagement with their loved ones. Virtual visitor carts represent equal access to a crucial factor in a patient’s healing: meaningful connection with those they love.
Nurses play a critical role in facilitating patient-visitor interaction through virtual visitor carts. Many patients who request the use of a virtual visitor cart don’t have the ability to operate the video messaging feature found on smartphones. A patient’s nurse will connect the patient with their family through a video calling app. So regardless of the patient’s physical or mental ability to make a call, they and their families can enjoy the connection a video call provides.
4. Power isn't a problem
Many patients might enter a hospital with their smartphones. However, charging and storing smartphones near a patient’s bedside might pose a safety problem. Even if a patient can store their phone near them, keeping a charge on their phone might be difficult. But when a hospital offers virtual visitor carts, charging won’t be a problem.
Nurses can simply roll in a powered cart when the patient—or family—is ready to make a call. The screens on virtual visitor carts are much larger than the average smartphone, making calls easier and more enjoyable for patients.
5. Patients receive holistic care
Nurses are the ones connecting patients with their loved ones through virtual visitor carts, which means they care for patients both physically as well as emotionally. When nurses facilitate video calls between patients and their families, they benefit as well. Nurses connect more intimately with patients and feel good about the care they provide and see the better patient outcomes offered by telemedicine equipment. And the more a nurse can care for a patient, the better that patient’s experience. Additionally, nurses can communicate with family on those same calls to provide updates on the patient’s progress.
6. Patients experience greater comfort
Virtual visitor carts bring patients comfort in what would otherwise be a lonely, potentially overwhelming hospital experience. These carts allow patients to connect with family when they might not otherwise have that chance. In the case of COVID-19 victims, some patients might go weeks before they’re discharged and able to see family. Virtual visitor carts can make sure no one ever has to go without having a meaningful connection with their loved ones.
In some scenarios, a patient can’t have face-to-face interaction with their families or loved ones. Though this isn’t ideal, it’s become the norm in the age of Coronavirus; however, virtual visitor carts allow patients to enjoy meaningful interaction with those they love even when they’re isolated in their hospital room.
Even when families are apart, they can still support each other through video calls using a virtual visitor cart. Contact Altus to start implementing a new fleet of tablet carts in your hospital and start allowing patients and families to connect better than ever.