Virtual nurse helps counsel patients before their hospital release

Apr 23, 2009
Virtual nurse helps counsel patients before their hospital release
Patient interacts with virtual nurse. Photo by Glenn Kulbako.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Looking for a nurse with a calm, patient bedside manner?

A Northeastern researcher has created an empathetic virtual nurse to help about to be discharged from a hospital stay understand and follow their care instructions.

According to Timothy Bickmore, assistant professor of computer and information science, and the developer of the virtual nurse, “Post-discharge self-care regimens are typically complex, with the average patient going away with 10 medications and multiple follow-up appointments. The discharge is even more hazardous for patients who have difficulty reading and following basic written medical instructions.”

On average, a pre-discharge conversation that outlines care instructions lasts fewer than eight minutes. Yet it’s a significant transition in medical care, intended to transform patients from passive recipients to active participants in their recovery.

The virtual nurse Bickmore has developed is designed to give pre-discharge patients more information. The animation can be brought to a patient’s bedside via a computer on a wheeled kiosk. The patient is able to control the interaction with a touch-screen display. Typically, patients spend about 30 minutes with the virtual nurse, reviewing an “After-Hospital Care Plan” booklet they have been given.

A three-year clinical trial of the virtual nurse began at Boston Medical Center in fall 2008. The trial will ultimately enroll 750 patients; 220 have participated so far.

Results to date indicate that low health literacy patients find the system easy to use, and even preferable to receiving the information from a live doctor or nurse.

Patients also express appreciation for the time and attention the virtual nurse gives them, and see her as an additional authoritative source for their , says Bickmore.

The research is the result of a collaboration between Bickmore and the Boston Medical Center, and is sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Provided by Northeastern University (news : web)

Explore further: What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Doctors' orders lost in translation

Jul 17, 2008

When patients are discharged from the emergency department, their recovery depends on carefully following the doctors' instructions for their post care at home. Yet a vast majority of patients don't fully understand what ...

Doctor who? Are patients making clinical decisions?

Feb 11, 2008

Doctors are adjusting their bedside manner as better informed patients make ever-increasing demands and expect to be listened to, and fully involved, in clinical decisions that directly affect their care.

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Bionic ankle 'emulates nature'

These days, Hugh Herr, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, gets about 100 emails daily from people across the world interested in his bionic limbs.

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...