Following what might be loosely described as a ‘B2B2C’ model, apps designed to enable healthcare practitioners to ‘educate’ their patients about specific medical conditions have recently been appearing on the market.
While the market for well-being applications continues to grow, ending the all-powerful status of the doctor when it comes to access to information, apps created by US-based Orca Health and the Natom Viewer apps developed by French firm Callimédia now provide health practitioners with information they can use to educate patients about their condition. Rather than going around seeking advice from various sources, or browsing through health forum content, the patient can now obtain a simple, clear explanation of an illness and so get a better grasp of the diagnosis and treatment put forward by the doctor. Originally intended for the mass market, it has emerged that 70% of all downloads of Orca Health apps are in fact by healthcare professionals, who also make most of the comments received by the company. Quite spontaneously, practitioners have been using the apps to “educate their patients,” says Orca Health founder and CEO Matt Berry. This prompted the company to bring out its ‘Patient Education for Healthcare Professionals’ suite of interactive iPhone and iPad apps that make it easy for clinicians to ‘prescribe’ educational materials to their patients.
App facilitates health professionals’ additions
Using the specially-designed professional version, medical practitioners now can select articles, graphics and 3D images which they think will help the patient, and package all the links into individual emails for their patients. Clinicians can also add patient-specific annotations to the medical images on their mobile devices for inclusion in the patient package. “Prescribing mobile apps, and using them for educational purposes on smartphones and tablets is very useful indeed,” concurs Denise Silber, President of e-health consultancy Basil Strategies and founder of the international annual conference Doctors 2.0 & You. Orca Health points out that by ‘prescribing’ educational material to their patients, the practitioners who have carried out beta testing of the professional app suite have increased patient retention by 15%. The new, professional version has been optimised for the recently-released Apple iOS 7, and is currently the only application labelled ‘Designed for iOS 7’ on iTunes. Orca Health’s French competitor Callimédia also has a lot to offer. The Natom Viewer apps are available in eleven languages and will shortly be available on Google Play as well. In addition, users can add to the native application “using a database or by including their own illustrations – i.e. X-rays and images from medical imaging systems – which are available in the photo library,” points out Callimédia CEO Gerard Peccoux.
Integrated Swedish-Finnish platform linked to EHRs
Swedish-Finnish company Laastari is pushing the idea one step further. Explains Denise Silber: “They have ‘drop-in’ clinics where, without an appointment, patients are seen by healthcare professionals who use iPads not just as educational tools but also with links to an electronic medical record. And this all-in-one app also means that patients can also get in contact with doctors remotely.” The possibility of plugging Orca Health apps into patients’ official Electronic Health Records has not been lost on Matt Berry either as this is the most frequent request from practitioners. Meanwhile French people appear to be in favour of having fully comprehensive information in their Personal Medical Records, but confidentiality issues need to be resolved and agreement obtained from the authorities before information derived from such apps can be included in these highly confidential records. “The application is very new and we haven’t yet contacted the health authorities to present our case. But we are planning to do so,” revealed Gerard Peccoux.