It all started with the vision of the center's medical director and previous service area director. "We wanted it to be very patient-centered, and really about healing the mind, body, and soul," Schaab says. "With that in mind, we really just started looking forward to all the futuristic opportunities that were out there, and when we learned about this, we just couldn't say no and kept moving forward."
The radiation department sees about 2,600 new patients a year. Providence Saint Joseph absorbs the cost of the RFID system so that it doesn't increase the patient's cost of care.
As yet, there's no data to show that the more pleasant experience has a material effect on the health of the patients. "Nothing has been published yet," Schaab says. "Patients always say how wonderful it is to be able to have this control back in their life on a day when they have no control. In the cancer world, everything's taken away from you. So now we're giving them back some of that control.
"We've had patients who may need to go into a meditative state to really relax themselves before getting radiation. They may be claustrophobic or have a lot of anxiety, so this really has helped to alleviate those symptoms," she says.
While all the evidence may not yet be in, all around healthcare, patients and their loved ones are taking control of their experience, and technology often plays a part. Patient advocate Regina Holliday, who lost her husband to kidney cancer, blogs and shares her paintings online as a form of healing and as a way of raising concerns about patients receiving appropriate care.
And much closer to home, my own wife, River Abeje, just won honorable mention at the 2012 International Black Women's Film Festival for a movie she made on her iPhone during her treatment for and recovery from breast cancer in 2008 and 2009.
So I know firsthand how powerful a force even the simplest technology can be in healing. As we continue to deploy one amazing technological advance after another, let's remember to heal the entire patient, and let them have as much control as they can along the way.