Physicians continue to welcome mobile medical apps that make their lives and work easier while increasing the length and quality of patients’ lives.
If you help children with leg bone length concerns, struggle with appointment scheduling, or lose track of patients between referrals and follow-up visits, then one of these apps is for you.
The Multiplier App
Physicians have reliably used the Multiplier Method for predicting children’s mature height and bone length for years. This helps them determine the appropriate treatment for maladies such as limb length inconsistencies or short legs. But the math can be tricky, leading physicians to make errors. And the calculations take a long time by hand.
The International Center for Limb Lengthening (ICLL) at the Rubin Institute for Advanced Orthopedics (RIAO) of Sinai Hospital, Baltimore, has addressed these hurdles with a free mobile software tool called the Multiplier App. The app, which is available for Android, iPhone and iPad, runs Multiplier Method formulas instantly based on a child’s gender, date of birth, and the length of their body or limb.
The Multiplier App runs 22 growth, length, and developmental calculations for height and limb length. The app includes a user guide, standard leg and foot measurements and other resources. Members of the ICLL were on the team that originally developed the Multiplier Method.
L. Reid Nichols, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., was looking for a tool to perform Multiplier Method calculations without error. “It used to take me quite a while to do the math manually,” she says. “The Multiplier app helps prevent mistakes.”
Nichols uses the app to run equations on large discrepancies between leg lengths. The app runs equations that determine how many times a limb will need surgery as it develops. “If I have a 20-cm discrepancy, I am not going to do all that lengthening in one procedure,” says Nichols.
The app helps Nichols predict overall height. “If the child’s parents are tall and the discrepancy is not much, I can just slow the growth of the leg that is too long,” she explains. The Multiplier App also helps determine when to do the procedures.
“The Multiplier App is very user friendly,” she says. It runs complicated equations accurately so she can save those extra minutes she would have wasted on recalculating each problem.
Though Nichols is happy with the Multiplier app, she does have a couple of suggestions: “Maybe they could add the ability to go back and forth between centimeters and inches. Maybe there will be an app for the Blackberry some day.”
Physicians use iTriage to enable patients to schedule their own appointments.
When a practice’s staff are tied up all day on the phones scheduling patient visits, they’re unavailable for other duties. With iTriage, patients check a physician’s availability and schedule their appointments over a mobile app that works on Android and the iPhone.
The free iTriage app, which also comes in a .mobi version and a full web page for use on desktop computers, leads patients to their physician or an appropriate specialist based on symptoms and causes that are searchable inside the app. The app combines workflow improvements for physicians with timely, appropriate care for patients by searching ER wait times, pre-registering patients to alert medical staff about an incoming medical condition, and booking appointments anytime, anywhere.
William Gluckman, D.O., who runs the FastER Urgent Care center in Morris Plains, N.J., takes advantage of iTriage for the sake of his patients, his staff and his practice. “I was looking for a better system for scheduling patients. With iTriage, they go online to make appointments without having to get on the phone with staff. The patient selects an appointment time that is good for them, the application sends us a notification, and it’s a win for everyone,” Gluckman says.
“We save an hour a day in staff time by having patients who would normally call make their appointments through iTriage,” he says.
“Once my patients start using it, they no longer call us to make their appointments. Parents set up accounts for their children as well. A husband, wife and their children can each have individual accounts. They make separate appointments for each on their mobile devices in a minute’s time,” Gluckman explains. Patients make appointments in off hours, too. “If they feel sick at 2 a.m., they can make an appointment then and come in at appointment time.”
Gluckman really likes the web portal that he and his staff use on their end of the process. “Any approved staff can access it and see the name of the patient, what they are coming in for, and when they are scheduled. We can reschedule through the portal and it will send an email to the patient about the rescheduled time,” he says.
The only extra capability Gluckman could wish for is integration. “I would like to see it integrated directly with my practice management system from my EMR vendor. If they could make that happen, that would be ideal,” Gluckman says.
When a physician makes a referral, how does she know the patient actually made and kept the appointment? Without some help, she probably doesn’t. That’s where eReferrals comes in. More than a messaging service, HIPAA compliant eReferrals helps physicians track and manage referrals and referred patients.
The app’s dashboard presents data about whether the specialist accepted the patient for an appointment, scheduled it, and whether the patient showed up. By managing referrals instead of just making them, the app enables physicians to stay abreast of the all-important follow through.
Medicity offers the mobile application as a private web-based platform that physicians, practices and hospitals set up on their servers. Once installed, physicians and anyone with access rights can use the web-based application via any browser or handheld device.
James R. Morrow, M.D., a family physician at Morrow Family Medicine, runs a solo family practice with one physician assistant. “We see
35 to 45 patients a day; we pride ourselves on being a technology-
enabled practice, which is vital to our ability to provide high-quality, convenient care for patients, particularly considering the size of our practice,” Morrow says.
Morrow was looking for a better way to manage referrals, both to process them to other physicians and to follow up to get the results back from specialists who treat his patients. It was also important for Morrow to find ways to improve communication between practices.
“The app, unlike traditional approaches that try to retrofit a technology to solve a business problem, was designed to fit our practice workflow and enables us to take the time we used to spend tracking down referrals and direct that to focus on taking care of our patients,” says Morrow.
Morrow and his assistant access the app from an iPad as they move from room to room and on their desktop PC. “Using the Safari web browser on the iPad, I can monitor the status of my referrals and help improve communication with my staff and the specialists involved,” Morrow explains.
Previously, Morrow’s nurse would fill out a paper referral form for the patient to take to their appointment. Then his staff would begin the process of faxing the paper forms to the specialist and following up with phone calls to make sure they received the faxed information. “As you can imagine, this is a very time-consuming and inefficient process,” Morrow says.
The eReferrals app fully automates the process so that both Morrow’s practice and the specialist have better information.
“At the point of care, when I determine that I need to make a referral, my nurse enters the patient’s name into the app, selects the appropriate specialist, and the app automatically populates the referral with basic information to process the referral and relevant patient information for the specialist to effectively treat my patient,” says Morrow.
Then Morrow’s office can track the referral process through the app without all the extra manual processes. The app enables Morrow’s nurse to keep a work list with the ability to check the status of the referral. The specialist uses eReferrals to receive, accept and schedule an appointment and attach the results to the referral request to send them back to his office as completed.
Morrow would like to see Medicity someday add to the app the capacity to share EMR data like medication lists and to access medical imaging.
David Geer is a frequent contributor to PracticeLink Magazine’s Tech Notes department.