New ED will feature wired private patient rooms

Hookup also will let docs review charts, labs

The ED patient, lying in bed in her own private room, picks up the all-in-one telephone handset and remote control beside her and calls her husband to tell him she’s been in a car accident. She clicks on the 12-inch TV monitor, watches for a while, and then decides to switch over to the radio for some calming music.

Remembering the workday has begun, she plugs her laptop into the set and proceeds to send off a quick e-mail to her boss. Later that morning, her physician comes by. Together they view her X-rays on the monitor and discuss her treatment options.

This type of scenario will be played out in reality once the new ED is completed at Sun Coast Hospital in Largo, FL, where all 21 patient rooms will be private and will include the multifunctional technology known as Patientline. The ED staff and hospital administration at Sun Coast contend the new system not only will improve efficiency, but also will significantly boost patient satisfaction.

"While the patients are here for medical care, there are things on the personal end they need to check on in between tests or waiting for results," notes Brenda McCarthy, RN, the ED manager. "On the other hand, it provides us a very personal way to review lab results, which can be brought up on the screen by the physicians and interfaced with the hospital system."

The new Sun Coast ED, which will encompass a total of 10,000 square feet, is being built in two phases. The first part will open in June 2005, and the second will open in November 2005. It will include computed radiography.

Officials at Sun Coast don’t know whether this new technology will increase revenues to their ED, but they do know it will set them apart in the market, and they expect and intend that their new facility will increase patient satisfaction.

"Basically, the ED is the gateway to the hospital," says Larry Archbell, the hospital CEO. "We want to be as efficient as we possibly can and bringing technology to the ED will boost efficiency and process improvement, and it will also increase patient satisfaction."

The public today "has pretty high expectations, and our goal will be to exceed those expectations," he says. "Anything we can do to make their stay more comfortable, to be reassuring and efficient, we want to put in this ED."

The Patientline system selected by Sun Coast is manufactured by UK-based Patientline, with offices in Pleasanton, CA. (For contact information, see resources, below.) In addition to the aforementioned services, the terminal in the patient’s room also enables movies on demand, video books, and games.

Archbell points out that in addition to providing convenient services, Patientline also will enhance the relationship between physician and patient. "It will enable a very private chat with physicians during which X-rays and other tests and clinical data can be shared with the patient," he says.

"You could even put in educational videos for the patient to watch, if they are going be here for some length of time," McCarthy adds. "So the system has multiple uses for hospital staff and patients," she says.

McCarthy and Archbell say they are sold on the potential benefits of the new Patientline system.

"We’ll provide a service to our patients for their personal needs, as well as providing a more enhanced way to review medical results," McCarthy says. "It will increase the speed of doing things, plus make the data much more visible for the patient," she asserts.

What isn’t clear, however, is whether the new system eventually will generate a positive return on investment. "We’re not sure about earn-back," concedes Archbell.

This is not to say, however, that he sees no financial benefit for the ED. "One benefit I see from this is — we are here to gain market share," he asserts. "If patients are happy and have a good experience in the ED as a result of the new system, they will come back, and we will be ED of choice in our market area."


For more information about Patientline, contact:

  • Brenda McCarthy, RN, ED Manager, Sun Coast Hospital, 2025 Indian Rocks Road, Largo, FL 33774. Phone: (727) 581-9474.
  • Larry Archbell, CEO, Sun Coast Hospital, 2025 Indian Rocks Road, Largo, FL 33774. Phone: (727) 581-9474.
  • Patientline, Corporate Commons, 6200 Stonebridge Mall Road, Pleasanton CA 94588. Phone: (925) 399 6121. E-mail: Web: