From interactions among members of the health care system to providing information to parents, apps are entering the children’s hospital culture.
By Kaitie Marolf
As parents, patients and medical professionals become increasingly technologically savvy, hospitals are using mobile apps to reach them through their mobile devices. “Our audience is millennial to Generation X moms,” says Kristy Belden, director of digital marketing at Kosair Children’s Hospital. “For these moms, their phone is their command center.”
Children’s hospitals across the country are using apps in a variety of areas. While many of these apps serve several functions, here are six ways mobile applications are helping hospitals.
1. Public education
Apps give parents easy access to information about important topics and access to hospital content. Kosair Children’s tries to contribute at least one new piece of online content daily, including videos, articles and patient stories. These also show up in their app. “We’re providing them a resource when and how they want it in a global space,” Belden says.
At Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Vaccine Education Center, part of the World Health Organization Vaccine Safety Net program, experts wrote and vetted content for the Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know app, which focuses on giving parents reliable vaccine information across the U.S. and around the world.
The app contains information on vaccines, the diseases they prevent and information on common vaccine safety concerns. “We know that a lot of parents have questions about vaccines and most are on their cell phones fairly regularly,” says Charlotte Moser, assistant director of the Vaccine Education Center at CHOP.
2. Patient interaction
Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s myChildren’s app provides parents with the opportunity to create profiles for their children and track each child’s health, growth and medical needs, including vaccine requirements. It also provides condition specific toolkits for NICU patients, diabetes and cystic fibrosis.
Information from the Nationwide Children’s blog and other resources are fed through the app based on the ages of the children. “We created the app so that families can manage their children’s care and get health, wellness and safety information,” says Stephanie Cannon, senior director, Digital Marketing.
3. Facility and system navigation
The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) app provides internal directions within each of their hospitals through ceiling beacons, part of an indoor navigation app product powered by Gozio Health. The app also includes navigation to the organization’s urgent care facilities, emergency departments and pharmacy affiliates across the state of Georgia.
“I call it the driveway to driveway experience,” says Gina Dobrasz, clinical operations consultant at CHOA. “If a family is at their grandmother’s house, the app can find the closest urgent care and tell them how to get there.” The app also provides estimated wait times for each location.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles' MyGI app allows people participating in research to enroll in surveys regarding their condition, either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and view an overall score by the end of the study. It also contains an algorithm that allows the administrative side to work with the results for research purposes.
5. Resident education
The My Residency app from Nationwide Children’s allows medical students to access their rotation materials, connect with faculty and peers, and manage their schedules. “These poor students were given books and binders and folders on every rotation,” Cannon says. “They were dog-eared, used and hard to maintain. With our audience being so digital savvy now, we quickly identified the clear need for the app.”
6. Colleague connections
The myCHLA app from CHLA is a physician portal that allows community physicians to refer patients to CHLA or access information on a patient previously treated at CHLA. “To think that clinical data is in the hands of people at the right time has been very satisfying,” says Aaron Fry, lead for the Enterprise Applications team at CHLA. “The data inside of an electronic medical record could be lifesaving.”