Phoenix Children’s Hospital – Get Connected Program

By Jennifer Marshall

Imagine being diagnosed with cancer. Imagine facing a long road of treatment and therapies. Imagine being in-and-out of the hospital where your normal life with family and friends is severely disrupted and often restricted. Now, imagine facing all these obstacles as a child.

Everyday, the patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital face and conquer these challenges head-on and are beating the odds. Thanks to the leadership at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and the generosity of Cox Communications and the Cox Family Foundation, these kids have a new warrior named Get Connected on their team.

What is Get Connected? Let’s answer a question with a question. How many times a day do you depend on your computer, tablet or smartphone to stay connected to the world? A zillion times you say? Well, the patients at Phoenix Children’s Hospital are no different.

The Get Connected program, which has been operational for about two years, has installed an iPad in every hospital room for every patient to use and enjoy. For ease of storage and charging, the iPads are mounted on the hospital room walls and attached to a cable that easily reaches the patient. Phoenix Children’s Hospital has 400 iPads in total.

When a child is admitted to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the iPad in their room is automatically configured with their preferred language and age, which allows the tablet to display only age-appropriate material. Because the hospital’s computer system knows each patient’s age, it will load a two-year-old’s iPad with toddler games while the sixteen-year-old will have Facebook. Knowing that the tablets are filtered by age, parents and family don’t have to stress over internet safety.

However, parents can override the settings if they believe a particular app or game is over or under their child’s abilities and maturity level. Also, they can override the settings in order to use the tablet themselves. Also, if for some reason they don’t want their child to use the iPad, the tablet can be turned off in which case its screen will only display the time.

When the day comes for a patient to be discharged, his/her family can rest easy knowing that their child’s iPad will be wiped clean, which means everything their child entered on their tablet, including passwords, will be permanently erased. However, if their child has to come back for a lengthy outpatient service, such as infusions or dialysis, Phoenix Children’s Hospital will provide them with another iPad for their use and entertainment while in the clinic receiving treatment.

According to David Higginson, Chief Information Officer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, the iPads do more than just entertain the patients. They’re also used for educational purposes as they come loaded with videos and other helpful information pertaining to the patient’s condition.

At the end of the day, the iPads offer these kids a lifeline to connect with family and friends. And that’s what it’s really all about for Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Cox Communications and the Cox Family Foundation.

“Some children are in the hospital for a month at a time,” said Higginson. “These iPads allow them to connect back to their world outside of the hospital and makes their difficult situation more bearable for them.”

And for those kids in isolation units, whose weakened immune systems keep them separated from visitors, an iPad with FaceTime could be their only way to see and talk to family and friends.

The iPad also allows the children to interact with family and friends who either live too far away or who are just unable to travel to the hospital. Kids can also interact with siblings who are too young for visits to the hospital.

Higginson credits Cox Communications and the Cox Family Foundation with not only buying the iPads but with also funding the development and implementation of the entire Get Connected program. All of the research and work was done at the hospital, and Phoenix Children’s Hospital holds a patent on the setup that makes it all work. In fact, the Get Connected program has been so successful that other children’s hospitals are in the process of testing it for their use.

“Get Connected wouldn’t have been possible without Cox Communications and the Cox Family Foundation,” said Higginson. “They have been a long-term partner and supporter of the hospital.”