Lenox Hill Neurosurgery App Comforts Patient and Her Family During Recovery
April 4, 2016
Dear Dennis Conners and Michael Dowling –
My wife Kathy was treated at Lenox Hill Hospital from December 2015 -January 2016 for a Cerebral Aneurysm. While she is still recovering, she is doing great and the care and expertise she received from Dr. Langer, Dr. Ortiz, and Dr. Costantino was fantastic. However, I am not writing this letter to tell you that the above doctors and their teams are top notch – you are no doubt aware. I am writing you to tell you how valuable my wife and I thought the Lenox Hill Neurosurgery App was. The application (and information it contained) played a key role for us as we prepared for Kathy’s surgery on December 17th and as we transitioned out of the care of the team at Lenox Hill and back to the care of physicians near our home in Wilmington, DE. In short, it provided a unique and differentiated patient experience than what was offered to us by other care teams that we evaluated for her surgery. If you are not familiar with the application, it contains key information from Kathy’s medical record and about her diagnosis/treatment plan. Central to the application were several videos recorded by Dr. Langer that included Kathy’s diagnosis based on the initial angiogram scans, a video review of the 3 surgeries she subsequently had, and a video of the discharge instructions and medication reviews for Kathy after she left the hospital.
How did the app affect our experience?
As neither Kathy or I had prior experience with aneurysms, and neither of us are neurosurgeons, we found ourselves immersed in a subject matter that was new to us. The diagnosis video provided Kathy and I the opportunity to better understand Dr. Langer’s suggested treatment plan. The diagnosis video also allowed us time to look up terms that were unfamiliar to us, research various cerebral bypass methods appropriate for Kathy’s aneurysm, and allowed us to ask better follow-up questions of Dr. Langer more quickly.
The app also provided Kathy a more complete picture of what was happening. We had many consultation appointments at various hospitals with various care teams - all of it was overwhelming for Kathy (and for me too). The video diagnosis was comforting in that it allowed us to take Dr. Langer “home with us”. We watched it ~20x. I was surprised at how often my notes from the consultations were incomplete or did not make sense when reading through them in the days after our consultations – it was great comfort to be able to watch the video and validate our understanding.
Lastly, the video enabled us to share the diagnosis directly with our family and friends. While it would be impractical to have our entire family at the consultation (they would be there if we allowed it), this was the next best thing. It allowed our family members to become comfortable with the operation, treatment plan, risks, etc. In the end, the app allowed us to arrive at a decision more quickly, with more comfort, and decreased the burden on me to inform family members of what we were planning on.
How did the app influence Kathy’s outcomes?
Affecting our experience is important, but I also believe the app influenced Kathy’s outcomes, especially after we left Lenox Hill. As mentioned above, in addition to the diagnosis video, Dr. Langer also provided us with a video review of her time at Lenox Hill and several videos to prepare us for life after discharge. Since we live in Wilmington, DE, we switched care teams when we left Lenox Hill. As we engaged with the care teams at the rehabilitation hospital, at the local Neurologist, and with our primary care physician, I was able to use the videos as tools to both inform and engage these physicians and their teams.
As you can imagine, it is one thing for me to describe the bypass surgery and post-op course of care to a HCP, but it is quite another when the HCP listens to Dr. Langer describe it while talking through various scans. It allowed them to more deeply understand Kathy’s situation and helped to create a more personal connection to us. In addition, when in the rehab hospital, there was some confusion around medications and dosages that Kathy was supposed to be taking. The nurses and I couldn’t keep it straight. However, I was quickly able to pull up the video of Dr. Langer’s discharge medication review and it cleared up the confusion.
Overall, the app, the videos, and information it contained were a great asset to Kathy, myself, and our family. While we made the decision to go with Dr. Langer because of his expertise, the app allowed us to better understand his approach and allowed him to better communicate it to us. In short, it allowed for a unique and differentiated patient experience. While the app is not a ‘final product’ and requires additional development as it is still in Beta, I would ask you both the same question I asked Dr. Langer shortly after discharge – Why isn’t this type of app available to all Doctors to provide to their patients - at Lenox Hill and beyond?
Thanks for your time -