BOSTON (CBS) – When it comes to keeping doctors and nurses safe during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s all about limiting exposure to infected patients and preserving personal protection equipment, or PPE. That’s why Brigham and Women’s Hospital fast-tracked a planned pilot program to use iPads to communicate with patients from outside their room.

According to Chief Information Officer Dr. Adam Landman, caregivers will still have to enter rooms of COVID-positive patients, but the iPads help cut down on the frequency of those visits, to minimize exposure and to conserve protective equipment like masks and gowns.

“If every time you go into the room you take a new gown and you put that on, then that’s a gown that is no longer available to be used again,” he said.

Brigham and Women’s has deployed over 400 iPads throughout their main campus and Faulkner Hospital, and more are being used throughout the Partners Health System.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital is using iPads to reduce visits into COVID-19 patient rooms. (Image: Brigham and Women’s)

They have the tablets setup so that doctors can talk to patients directly through the device, without the patient having to touch it.

Nurse manager MaryKate Hegarty called the program “a real life saver,” saying the devices help them care for patients safely, while still maintaining a personal connection.

Patients are giving the iPads high marks as well.

“They actually like the fact that they can see the face of the provider, as opposed to when the provider enters the room with a mask,” Hegarty said.

The iPads aren’t just for clinical purposes. The staff on one COVID-19 floor learned to sing Happy Birthday in Arabic, then gathered around an iPad to sing for a patient.

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