Hospital shifts strategy to build - not buy - mHealth apps

An increasing demand for mobile medical applications is prompting at least one New York hospital to revert its software strategy from buying to in-house development, according to an InformationWeek report.

"I think what we're facing now is different," New York-Presbyterian Hospital CIO Aurelia Boyer told InformationWeek, describing on-the-shelf mHealth apps as "pretty primitive.

"The most obvious driver of that is that the way consumers use their phones is so different," she said. The push to implement mobile technologies is primarily consumer driven as patients, caregivers and healthcare workers are getting greater insight each day on how mobile tools can improve quality of care and drive efficiency, Boyer said.

The computing realm should be "just like my iPhone, where there are lots of little apps I can open up and use for different things," Boyer added. "Our vendors are not going to get there fast enough for us."

As FierceMobileHealthcare reported in November, some industry watchers view mobile healthcare app developers as behind the eight ball in delivering on the promise of mHealth tech and must stop creating "pet rock" software and devices that don't help patients or providers. For instance, consumer J.C. Herz recently contended in a Wired column that apps are not being created to help the chronically ill, elderly or the poor, all of whom would benefit most. Instead, Herz said, developers are "developing marginally useful apps and gadgets for people just like themselves."

New York-Presbyterian isn't the only provider taking a proactive approach to mHealth app creation. At Boston Children's Hospital, an app that works as a patient portal is being used with parents in mind to help them better manage the care of their children. What's more, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is testing an app that brings real-time clinical data to caregivers.

One of the initial software efforts at New York-Presbyterian focused on switching out the nurse call button in surgical units for a tablet computer app, which enhanced patient communications with staff, according to InformationWeek.

"We're thinking about workflow issues in the hospital, ways we can save time or move things along," Boyer told InformationWeek. "If patients get their pain med faster, that's significant."

For more information:
- read the InformationWeek article

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