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DANVILLE, PA -- Drew Chesney, a 15-year-old cancer patient from Yeagertown, Pa. spends a lot of time in the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. So much so that the Mifflin County Junior High freshman brings his own Xbox, television and video games. Drew was more than happy to be given an iPad during his most recent admission to the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital on the campus of Geisinger Medical Center (GMC).

“I’ve watched movies on it and used it to play games,” said Drew, who added that it helps to pass the time. Since February, Drew has been admitted three times for month-long stays with only a week at home in between admissions. With so much time spent in the hospital, he relies on a visiting teacher who comes three days every week to keep up with his schoolwork. “He also uses the iPad to look up things for school,” said Amy Bubb, Drew’s mother.

Elsewhere in the hospital, Alex Pierce, a 17-year-old patient from Lewistown, Pa. used his Geisinger iPad to FaceTime with a cousin and watch movies on Netflix with his dad. Alex, who is being treated for a germ cell tumor, was admitted to the hospital for six-day stays every 15 days before finishing his treatment.

The iPad is the popular patient tool in Geisinger’s recently-launched Interactive Patient System (IPS) program. It is available in the Janet Weis Children’s Hospital and on several floors in the main hospital at GMC, including the hematology/oncology floor. In addition to GMC, IPS has also been launched in Geisinger Bloomsburg Hospital Women’s Health Labor and Delivery and Geisinger South Wilkes-Barre’s short stay unit and surgical suite.

The program was developed by a team of employees from Janet Weis Children’s Hospital (JWCH) in cooperation with Geisinger in Motion, a department within Geisinger’s Division of Applied Research and Clinical Informatics’ (DARCI) that focuses on innovative patient engagement and clinician enablement using consumer tools such as the Internet, mobile technology and social media. The employees identified the need for a tool to distract, entertain and calm pediatric patients, many of whom are facing long stays and difficult treatments.

IPS provides iPads that are pre-loaded with over 100 apps to pediatric and adult patients. The apps include games, movies/television shows, music, weather/news, social media, medical resources and local information. If patients want to access anything that’s not on the iPad, they can use their Apple ID to access their own music, movies and apps. For patients who are not familiar with iPads, there are video tutorials available on how to use the system.

Made possible by a generous donation from the Auxiliary at Geisinger Medical Center, the IPS program began at JWCH in April 2015 and expanded to Women’s Labor & Delivery and two floors in the Hospital for Advanced Medicine. Plans are underway for additional roll-outs in other areas of the hospital. Response from patients has been overwhelmingly positive.
Children find the iPads especially useful to distract themselves from what can be a frightening and difficult time.

Three-year-old Nathan Negrete enjoys playing with the iPad while he waits for medical tests. His parents, Omar and Michelle, say the iPad has proven to be a wonderful distraction for him during his stay at the Janet Weis Children’s Center. “He’s been playing with it a lot,” said Mr. Negrete. Mrs. Negrete added that it’s also been helpful to Nathan’s older sister Kendra, who uses it to pass the time while the family is at the hospital.

While the iPads provide distraction and entertainment, they also are useful to patients in managing their care during the hospital stay. Currently all but the children’s hospital iPads feature MyChart Bedside, a Geisinger-adapted patient portal app that provide access to portions of the patient’s medical record, along with the ability to obtain information about the patient’s care team, diagnosis, labs, medications, medical references and educational materials.

Patients who used MyChart Bedside said the app helps to inform them about their condition, learn more about their care team, access test results, and allow them to make requests electronically.

Plans are underway for a system-wide expansion including emergency departments, and enhanced functionality such as navigating around the hospital.

About Geisinger
Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a research institute and the Geisinger College of Health Sciences, which includes schools of medicine, nursing and graduate education. With more than 25,000 employees and 1,700+ employed physicians, Geisinger boosts its hometown economies in Pennsylvania by billions of dollars annually. Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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