As a new model of healthcare comes to be established with payments tied to value and not volume of services performed, it is imperative for hospitals to be connected with their patient populations to keep them healthy.
One company that is trying to help build that connection — that has traditionally been intermittent and often triggered by a healthcare emergency — is Rochester, Minnesota-based mRemedy Inc. The company is the result of a collaboration with parent company DoApp and the Mayo Clinic, and has created myTality, a custom-branded app for hospitals and clinics. (It seems that mRemedy has matured since the time its sole purpose was to develop and sell smartphone apps based on Mayo research.)
The myTality app serves several nifty functions. First, it is a healthcare resource tool that allows patients the ability to learn about diseases and conditions. The information is powered by Mayo Clinic’s vast medical library that mRemedy has licensed (Mayo also has put in some seed capital in mRemedy). In addition to the library, the app has a “First Aid” tab that patients can refer to to learn how to quickly respond to everything from animal bites to spinal injury.
Second, it makes a hospital and its services seem less far away. Patients can use the “Physician Link” tab to find any physician by name or specialty at a hospital. It also has maps of hospital campuses and clinic locations. Health providers also can keep patients up to date about their organizations through the “News” tab.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, it encourages the mhealth movement by offering a whole suite of health trackers. For now, there are six: weight, cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and migraine. But there are many more planned that will allow patients to pick and choose what they want — for instance, a pregnancy tracker that will appeal to mainly women, said Patrick Smith, director of sales at mRemedy.
There is also a pill-tracking tool to ensure that patients have a simple way to know whether they have taken their medication. Pills that are to be taken only for a short period of time — say antibiotics — can be added and deleted at will.
And all these health trackers provide the option to users to email the information to anyone they want to share it with, Smith said. Finally, there is a feature that allows users to save their insurance card information on the same app.
“We did it for women who change their purses, but forget to move their insurance cards,” Smith said.
mRemedy is still in the testing phase and has not begun an aggressive sales and marketing campaign, which will likely begin this fall, Smith said.
Two health systems that have signed up are Central Baptist in Lexington, Kentucky andPoudre Valley Health System in Fort Collins, Colorado. Two more are expected to sign up soon — Avera, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Parrish Medical in Titusville, Florida.
Smith said that Central Baptist had initially used the app for one location and now it has rolled it through four other locations too.
“For the hospital, the benefit is that if patients use this, then they stay tethered to the system,” Smith explained “For doctors, the patients can give them more information that helps them manage these chronic diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.”
Smith added that aside from developing new apps, mRemedy seeks to provide Spanish and Mandarin-language apps to serve the large minority populations. And building a voice-activated app is something that executives desire to do in the near future.
“We blame everything on Siri,” Smith joked in reference to the voice-activated personal assistant introduced in the Apple iPhone 4S model in 2011.