iPad apps helping hospitals make money, provide treatment

Hundreds of hospital have created iPad apps in the past year, but most have been pretty basic--directions to the campus, physician finders, some disease-specific educational content.

Lately, though, hospital CIOs are going beyond the basic, creating apps and enabling tablet use for bigger purposes, from making money to surveying patients. A recent MedCity News article outlined a few of those purposes, including:

  • Reeling in revenue: While most hospitals are still creating in-house apps for use by their own patients and clinicians, Mayo Clinic has cracked the code on selling its apps to the public. There aren't many, yet--it sells one meditation app for $2.99, and earns royalties on another for dermatitis. The health system has even created a new startup, mRemedt, to develop apps from Mayo research projects.

    And Mayo isn't slowing down anytime soon. Spokeswoman Kathy Anderson said, according to MedCity News, that the health system will be creating more paid apps in the near future, although she wouldn't reveal what kind.
  • Providing treatment: OhioHealth created a health app to help pregnant women track their pregnancies and stay in close contact with their OB/GYNs. Meanwhile, Central Baptist Hospital in Kentucky developed a first-aid app to help users handle animal bites, heatstroke, and other emergency (but not necessarily ER-worthy) health issues.
  • Distracting from pain: Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Erlanger Health System inserts an iPad in between its youngest patients and painful procedures. Loaded with apps like Angry Birds, the iPads are far better at holding patients' attention while nurses insert IVs or physicians clean a wound, staff told the Chattanooga Times Free Press in August. Physicians particularly like the device in the ER, where it often prevents the need for sedation on younger patients.
  • Surveying patients: Brockton [Mass.] Hospital didn't develop a survey app, but is using the commercial app, Survey on the Spot, to get patients' input just prior to discharge. Patients fill out the survey on an iPad, and the feedback is available to be delivered to staff during the same shift, according to MedCity News.

    The software even sends messages to managers on any service that patients rated as poor.
  • Connecting to history: Cleveland Clinic has an unusual app that plays on its long history in the community, particularly focused on medical advances it can take credit for, including interviews with physicians who accomplished them. It's a bit of a soft sell, but showcases Cleveland Clinic's brand, for sure.

To learn more:
- read the MedCity News article
- check out this Chattanooga Times Free Press story from August