Apple-IBM mobile health apps: Just what the nurse ordered

Last year, I wrote a commentary proclaiming it was time to tech-mobilize the hardest working segment in healthcare: the nursing staff. At the time I was a bit upset, given a report that nurses weren't considered top priority when it came to mobile medical tools and development focus.

"Hospital IT is under invested when it comes to nursing care technology," Gregg Malkary, founder and managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group, which released the report, told FierceMobileHealthcare at the time. More than half of today's nurses still rely on pagers and landline communications, Malkary noted, adding the trend is negatively impacting patient care and hospital operations efficiency.

What a difference a year makes. This past week, IBM and Apple rolled out a quartet of apps aimed specifically at assisting nurses. 

It all started last July, when the two companies announced they were collaborating to transform enterprise mobility by devising new apps for dozens of vertical niche markets, including healthcare. At the time, the partnership received some quiet coverage.

Flash forward nine months and you've got tools that appear to be just what the doctor--er, nurse--ordered.

The four new apps in the MobileFirst for iOS portfolio include:

  • The Hospital RN tool, which enables nurses tap into record keeping systems, organization tools and iBeacon technology for streamlined management tasks.
  • Hospital Tech, which lets nursing assistants organize and prioritize tasks, which frees up time for patient care.
  • Hospital Lead, which helps care managers and charge nurses better manage workloads, staff assignments and patient discharge tasks.
  • The Home RN app, which provides tools to gain greater efficiency in managing caseloads and reporting needs to specialists during home care interaction.

The announcement is incredibly encouraging in terms of providing needed tools for what is often described as the most overworked and critical labor segment in healthcare. It's also great news for patients, given that nurses are the clinicians patients interact with the most and oftentimes rely on the most in healthcare management.

Here's hoping that other tech giants are paying close attention and will jump to mimic this model. Nurses and patients deserve as much. - Judy (@JudyMottl and @FierceHealthIT)