Health videos and smartphones: A new sandbox to play in?

Hospitals should be looking to add more robust video capability to their online presence. But we're talking about more than just videos of talking heads. A recent study published in a British medical journal shows that watching videos via mobile device can improve patients' compliance, retention and engagement with health information. In particular, the study pointed out that users who received CPR instruction on their smartphones actually performed the task better, and were more likely to attempt it in the first place.

What's more, a new video-enabled app from Vanderbilt University helps hospital EMT teams be more prepared for a car accident scene by accepting videos uploaded by bystanders. The possibilities on both sides of the spectrum are exciting.

For hospitals so far, though, online videos that are accessible by smartphone are few and far in between. Most health system websites include a video of the CEO welcoming patients, or a description of available services by a physician, but not much more.

One hospital--Orlando Health--has pioneered some solid online content through YouTube, which can be accessible via mobile phone, a hospital official noted. The hospital has created hundreds of informational videos, news clips and other video fare for patients, with solid response from the community. It already has taken one baby step into instructional videos via "Heart Healthy Cookout," which shows viewers how to create a healthy meal on a home grill. But there may be more to come.

Another natural area for hospitals to consider mobile-enabled videos may be physical/occupational therapy. Videos of how to correctly perform activities of daily living, exercises, and the like, already are plentiful on YouTube and a host of fitness sites like Some apps, too, are available with instructional video components, like the Motion Doctor PT app for the iPad. The app provides 60 videos of how to perform exercises and other tasks. One interesting function: The videos are embedded in the app, rather than streamed over the Web, making it possible for users to access the videos even when they don't have wireless connectivity, according to company officials.

Ed Marx, CIO of Texas Health Resources in Dallas, believes that hospitals eventually could offer such videos as a "public service," which, he adds, could open up branding possibilities.

"I think this would be a great service," he tells FierceMobileHealthcare. "A hospital [could] have its own app store where everything is free and perhaps branded." - Sara