Still waiting for a killer smartphone app


One of the great ironies among those of us who write about health IT is that we tend to be far behind those we cover in terms of our own technology. I've actually covered a HIMSS conference without a laptop computer. It wasn't until 2005 (!) that I even had a cell phone of my own, and that was a pay-as-you-go model that gave me a whopping 40 minutes of talk time per month. But, hey, the monthly service was only $10. I've since upgraded my calling plan and my handset, but only to a pocket-sized flip phone that didn't even have a camera.

Now, I am proud to say that I am no longer a laggard. Last month, I took the plunge into the world of smartphones, getting myself a state-of-the-art BlackBerry Curve 8900. Yes, I am now a card-carrying member of the Crackberry Generation.

So far, it's been great for keeping up with the massive volume of email I receive, for browsing the Internet on the go, and for discovering new music. No longer do I have to ask l friends and colleagues to call instead of text because the full keyboard makes it easy to type out a response.

I've checked out BlackBerry App World a few times, even looking at a few of the apps we featured in FierceMobileHealthcare last month. And what have I downloaded? The plug-ins for Gmail and Facebook. WeatherBug. Slacker Personal Radio. VonageMobile, so I can make cheap international calls. But not a single one for healthcare. Why? Because I don't have any of the chronic diseases that smartphone apps help people track. I'm not training for a marathon. And, above all, I don't see much value in personal health records just yet. Perhaps when my own doctor gets an EMR that can populate a PHR?

In other words, I still have no first-hand experience with any part of physician workflow, mobile or otherwise. But at least I can take my calendar and the Internet with me. - Neil

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