The Patient Pod
Being stuck in a hospital bed brings loss of control, individuality and agency over every aspect of your life, from when and what to eat, to when you can use the bathroom. The Patient Pod gives back to the patient a little bit of that control, and feeling of "personhood". It's just a simple device that clips to the bed rail, with pockets for a patents' personal things, and features that let them stay organized and feel "known" to hospital staff. Working with nurses and administrators, I created this simple tool several years ago.
"...like bringing a friend to the hospital with you - familiar and comforting in a place
where nothing you touch is yours." - Hospital CEO Sandy Coletta
Comfort and control for a patient
"Brilliant idea - kept everything I needed in a clean and convenient location.
I didn't have to bother the nurses or get up for things I needed." - Patient Pod user, Kent Hospital
"The staff called me by my full name correctly. Nice to have the paper and pen to take notes when the doctor comes around. Everyone who came to see me talked about it!" - Patient Pod user
"Decreased germ transfer, less clutter at the bedside and less chance of lost belongings. But what I liked best was the personal touch of giving it to the patient." - RN, Winnie Palmer Hospital
Watching my dad spend months in a hospital bed, I was frustrated - for him and for me - that his personal things like eyeglasses, cell phone, hearing aids and dentures were often misplaced, moved out of reach, or lost. These small things mattered to nobody else; but to him, they were precious. Why couldn't we create a go-to "home" for a patient's things?
As clinicians and families weighed in on the Pod's design, we included other items sorely need from the patient's viewpoint: a notepad and pen, at hand for when the doctor gives a patient or family member important information. A message clip (within the little green pear) for the patient (or patient's daughter, in my case) to post an important message, sort of like the "patient's white board". The patient also gets to write their preferred name and insert a personal photo in front, so that everyone coming into the room will "know" the person in that bed the moment they walk in the door. It makes for an easy way for the care team to engage with patients personally and authentically.
And then there's the chaos at discharge, and the risk of readmission. Notes and discharge papers go inside the Pod, where they won't get lost. The Pod also has a patented attachment system that self-levels on any bed rail, and can be moved to a walker, wheelchair, or from room to room. In hospital trials, 100 % of nurses said they'd want a Patient Pod for themselves if they were hospitalized.
A labor of love
This was my dad, Bob Stegeman. He was a proud and independent person, and always sweet to the nurses, even as his initial stay in the hospital stretched into months, due to painful and debilitating complications. Being completely dependent on others was the saddest part of his last days with us. And much of that was due to the chaos of his environment. His hearing aids got ruined (wet) while sitting on his cluttered bed table. He couldn't communicate, and the notes I left around his bed to "speak up" weren't seen by staff, who are busy, and don't have a designated place in the environment to look for them. He often couldn't find his eyeglasses, his list of phone numbers, or a pen and paper to write a note.
Hospitals are sophisticated places, where technologies are bringing us miracles. But to a starving person, it's a simple bite of food that's magical. I felt patients were starving for control over what happens to them when they have so little, and for the comfort of human connection. My dad never saw a Patient Pod, but I thing he would have liked it.
Do you want to bring Patient Pods to your patients?
I'd love to help. I have data on how the Pod transforms care, and a quantity available to try out.
Watch the Patient Pod in a hospital setting