Eighty-one-percent of U.S. physicians own smart phones, according to Manhattan Research. Without respectable apps, the devices make good voice phones or fair paperweights. The following apps can transition your phone into much more.
This free app pushes access to essential clinical decision support data to more than a million health care professionals on their Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices. Users can also purchase premium information resources from leading medical publishers. The respective apps are available from the iTunes store, the Android Market and the BlackBerry App World. Premium content is available from those sites and at skyscape.com.
Skyscape Medical Resources delivers access to the same data physicians used in training. Its makers produced more than 600 clinical drug guides, journals, medical calculators and tools in partnership with F.A. Davis, Wolters Kluwer, McGraw-Hill and Elsevier. Physicians can customize the app based on their specialties and unique professional needs.
The app’s SmartSearch feature queries search items across its library. Physicians can cross-reference multiple information repositories with seamless efficiency using the SmartLink feature. Physicians can move from clinical data to treatment guidelines and drug information during a single patient interaction. All content is regularly updated to reflect the latest findings.
Jason Bhan, M.D., a family practitioner in Sterling, Va., who also teaches in a residency training program connected to Virginia Commonwealth University, was looking for solutions to a few issues when he found Skyscape. "I needed to stay current with relevant journals from my practice area. I wanted a tool to keep me updated with highlights from different sources so I could pick and choose the items I wanted to read. I wanted to avoid buying or using big textbooks," Bhan says. Skyscape Medical Resources was the answer for all of these needs.
Bhan’s favorite feature is Skyscape’s MedAlert, which messages his iPhone with breaking news. "The messages highlight recent journal articles that are pertinent to my specialty and practice and provide concise summaries," Bhan says.
AirStrip Cardiology (airstriptech.com) impressed Apple enough that the company featured it in an iPad 2 commercial. The app presents GE Healthcare MUSE Cardiology Information System data, empowering clinicians with access to precise, near-real time cardiac information on iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch. (Android-based versions are coming.) Using the app’s high-resolution, interactive views, physicians detect minute changes (to 0.5 millimeters) in ECG measurements, enabling them to diagnose critical heart conditions while on the go. The app supports readings from 12- and 15-lead ECGs while making current and historical tests available for viewing in 10-second increments.
Jose R. Soler, M.D., a noninvasive cardiologist at the Northwest Medical Center in Florida, was looking for a mobile platform to provide him with reliable, rapid reviews of ECG data to assist in accurate diagnoses (of ST elevation MI vs. non-ST elevation MI) and to quicken treatment decisions (cath lab vs. medical management). AirStrip Cardiology in hand, Soler realized his diagnosis and treatment goals.
"On call, our cardiologists use iPhones and iPads to retrieve ECG data immediately. There is no need for a fax machine (there is never one at the restaurant) or to log on to the hospital system via a desktop or laptop," says Soler.
Soler’s favorite features include the ability to recall past ECG data from the hospital’s MUSE database and compare it with the present ECG to assess for changes on the spot. He also likes the fact that he can zoom in while maintaining resolution so he can see those ST segments clearly up close and take reliable measurements.
In addition, the app stores 10 seconds worth of data so he can scroll through it and look at rhythm changes.
According to Soler, the app makes his work as a physician easier because he can access ECG data away from the hospital via iPhone or iPad quickly, reliably and securely - meeting HIPAA requirements. "I rely on the app for new consultations and when there are changes in patient status that require access to ECGs (changes such as ischemia or rhythm disturbances)," Soler says.
Dr. Rounds+ is a patient list organizer and charge capture service that Camil Sader, M.D., the app’s maker, has adapted to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. He is also porting the app to Android-based phones (release projected for Fall 2011).
The app’s five key features include patient list creation; charge capture; secure email list generation for forwarding patient lists and data; an Internet-based answering service; and a search capability for finding missed charges and other information.
The patient lists offer data entry shortcuts and customizations that save the physician time no matter their specialty. The software maintains an accurate count of patients as well as charge captures to counter loss of revenue. So far, the app has saved users more than $15 million collectively in otherwise lost revenue.
The secure email list enables data sharing among physicians and secure sign out from the patient census. The answering service equips secretaries, clerks and ER nurses to log in to the Dr. Rounds+ WebApp to send consults or callback information for the physician’s easy retrieval. The service can send consults and callbacks to as many physicians as necessary. Doctors use these messages to generate patient records automatically. The search utility empowers physicians to search patient data for referral patterns, workload within the varying facilities, and case logs that they can upload to their certifying boards.
Alan Bank, M.D., a gastroenterologist working at Digestive Care LLP in Boca Raton, keeps up with an office practice and two sets of hospital rounds per day as well as GI procedures and colonoscopies. He was eagerly seeking an electronic package for tracking patients, diagnoses and billings that could perpetuate the data throughout the week. "Dr. Rounds+ guarantees that I do my billing and charges correctly. It keeps me from worrying where my patients and their data are, too," says Bank.
But Bank’s favorite feature is the ability to transfer patient information from day to day and to search for patients he has seen. "I save 45 minutes a day over the previous handwritten process. This gives me more time to concentrate on caring for my patients," Bank adds.
IQMax makes practical physician apps for a host of platforms including the iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and even Windows Mobile. Its IQCharge app captures charge codes in minutes. Doctors set up their own one-click favorites to help them code quickly and accurately.
Mike Cowan, M.D., a neurosurgeon with Carolina Neurosurgery & Spine Associates, was looking for an improvement over recording charges on pieces of paper or in calendar entries on computers and handheld devices. Using IQCharge on his Droid X smart phone, Cowan enters charges directly so billing does not have to pull or compile charges from other resources.
"IQCharge is cleaner and more efficient," he says.
Cowan likes the customized codes, which he uses for charges he enters frequently. "I just push a button to enter them rather than select all the different charges," says Cowan. For example, if Cowan had to turn in a charge for surgery on a ruptured disk, there are three to four different codes to turn in. "Normally I would have to look through a menu for all the codes. IQMax created macros for me so I can go into a menu, pick the surgery, and it is preloaded with the codes I need," he says.
Cowan’s favorite feature is the ability to turn in charges at the point of care. "When I was entering charges into my calendar, sometimes I would get busy and couldn’t get to a computer until later in the day, or I would forget and not get it done until later in the week. With IQCharge, I can pull up my phone, click open the specific patient and hit send," says Cowan.
Physicians tired of going round and round with charges, who need a fount of knowledge in the palm of their hands or an app they can take to heart, may now be satisfied.
Though the variety of medical apps is variegated and increasing, their focus continues to center around saving time, data accuracy, efficiency, and enabling physicians to mobilize capabilities that once were tethered. Perhaps this is what physicians require most.
David Geer is a frequent contributor to PracticeLink Magazine’s Tech Notes department.