By Christina Orlovsky, contributor
July 23, 2010 - In these days of optimum connectivity, there's a mobile application for almost everything – including health care. Thanks to high-tech communication tools, nursing knowledge and patient health information are both available at consumers' fingertips, helping to improve communication, shorten decision times and increase the likelihood of good outcomes.
For nurses who are constantly on the go, mobile access to information can be a key factor in improving efficiency, reducing errors and improving patient safety. Some of the latest offerings are from Skyscape, which has a large portfolio of nursing-specific mobile applications. Nurses can access single applications or the Skyscape Nursing Constellation, which includes a suite of the most popular.
Skyscape allows instant access to a variety of information, including: drug guides; more than 100 nursing references for different specialties; dosage and drip rate calculators, IV drug compatibility and drug interaction tools; and lab references. Information can be uploaded to nurses' handheld devices – including iPhone, BlackBerry and Android – for point-of-care concerns such as genetic and gender considerations, primary nursing diagnoses, treatment plans, and discharge and home care instructions.
According to Verinder Bawa, a spokesperson for Marlborough, Massachusetts-based Skyscape, one of the biggest benefits to the mobile communication technology is that it's nurse-specific.
"Most hospitals provide access to medical information databases, but most often the content is written for physicians," he explained. "Skyscape offers nursing resources with nursing implications with an emphasis on patient care. Content is frequently updated and also includes medical alerts from the Food and Drug Administration on drug recalls and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on disease epidemics. All of this increases patient safety as well as reduces personal and institutional liability."
On the other side of the provider–patient spectrum, another mobile tool is empowering patients to take control of their health care, allowing access to medical records, valuable health information and other health-related applications on their mobile devices.
iTriage, a comprehensive mobile health care application developed by two emergency room physicians with Lakewood, Colorado-based Healthagen, offers users a host of valuable health information, including symptom and disease information; a nationwide directory of hospitals, urgent care clinics, retail clinics, pharmacies and other providers; GPS information to help patients locate the facility nearest to their current location; nurse advice lines; quality reports; and emergency room wait times in certain areas. The full package ensures patients are well informed and confident they can access health care from virtually anywhere.
"Much of health care is mobile and occurs when patients do not have access to their desktop computer. Mobile technology potentially gives patients access to information they need when they experience an injury or illness," said Wayne Guerra, M.D., MBA, iTriage co-founder. "We developed iTriage to leverage this new mobile technology by giving patients the only symptom-to-provider pathway available. iTriage helps patients organize their thoughts about their symptoms, explore possible causes and then find the appropriate provider anywhere in the United States."
Guerra concluded that better understanding about patients' health and how to access health care leads to better compliance and, consequently, better health care.
"We have many provider testimonials telling us they like it when their patients have used iTriage to find them because this group already has a baseline understanding of their symptoms and the possible disorders causing them. As a result there is a higher level of communication between the patient and provider," he said. "iTriage patients ask a deeper level of questions and are able to go away with a better understanding of the health care they just received. This enhanced patient-provider interaction causes a more pleasant experience for all those involved and ultimately results in better health care."
iTriage is a free application that can be downloaded from the Apple? applications store or accessed at www.iTriageHealth.com.
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