Smartphone application empowers patients with content tailored to their needs

Doctors have a communication problem: Studies have found that patients typically remember only 25% to 35% of what they're told by their doctors during office or hospital visits.

OhioHealth recognized that physicians needed a better way to convey information and reinforce important medical advice and instructions and saw mobile phones as a tool to do just that.

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Working with vendors, OhioHealth developed a mobile application that can be deployed on smartphones through the Apple and Google Android marketplaces to deliver real-time, up-to-date healthcare information to its patients.

The application delivers audio and video content as well as text to accommodate different learning styles. The content and messages delivered are tailored to each patient's situation so that each person experiences the app as a tool that's customized and personalized to his medical needs.

Content is delivered at strategic times to maximize the effectiveness of the information the app provides. For example, a post-operative patient is sent instructions on how to care for an incision after the surgery, while an expectant mother receives messages reminding her about a particular test that can be performed only during certain weeks of her pregnancy.

The mobile app also has an integrated map application, so patients can use their smartphones to easily access directions to their doctors' offices.

OhioHealth had to contend with several challenges as it developed and deployed its mobile app. From a technical standpoint, there were data integrity problems within physician databases, and multiple interfaces needed to be developed for various smartphones. On the people side, OhioHealth had to persuade physicians to contribute current photos for online use, and it had to raise awareness of the mobile app among its patient population once it was available.

OhioHealth tackled those issues and successfully deployed the app, with metrics indicating that it was well received by patients. In the initial pilot with obstetric patients in the spring of 2011, 24% of enrolled patients visited the app more than five times.

OhioHealth has already rolled out the mobile app to obstetrical and cardiology patients and plans to expand it to more patient groups as additional content is developed.

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This story, "Smartphone application empowers patients with content tailored to their needs" was originally published by Computerworld.

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