So what is an example of a really simple, but useful application for physicians that is being developed now?
‘Find my patient’ under development in the UK at the University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (source article) is a mobile application to help doctors find their patients by accessing the hospital records system. Nothing fancy, but addressing a pressing, current need: since patients are often moved to several locations and clinics as their treatment progresses, it can be hard for a doctor to find their patients as they themselves move around the hospital.
Imagine the time saving possible from such a simple app, provided that the hospital computer system has the correct and current patient location information.
As a relative of patients at various times, I have certainly experienced delays in finding where a person I would like to visit is currently located. Often a hospital receptionist has to query floor nurses to see if a patient is still at the location shown in the hospital computer system, or has arrived at the location allocated to them. A local positioning tag as part of a patient’s arm band would help real-time patient tracking.
Another simple example? A Canadian company is developing software to help patients fill in the typical admission form that is often presented on a clipboard. I once had to help an older relative fill in 8 pages of forms and questionnaires at the start of an outpatient visit. Then some clerk had to transcribe the paper entries. Meanwhile the attending physician did not have access to the forms, or indeed time to read them. Direct electronic entry and automated review, with flagging of issues and outliers, would be very helpful.
Almost in contrast, there are already many simple applications for patient consumers. I've lost count of the number of companies I have seen developing ways for patients to find an open clinic or book an appointment.
Developers know the frustrations of patients, but not many know the frustrations of physicians. Initiatives like Hacking Health can bring docs and developers together in a forum for agile development of useful health apps.