In a previous life (not so long ago, actually), I ran a community-based healthcare company providing support for elderly and disabled clients in their own homes. The services provided by our staff allowed people who might otherwise have needed to move into a nursing home (or other supported facility), to remain in the comfort of their own home. This in itself helps keep people healthy, as relocating to a completely new location in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people and a completely new environment, can have a significant impact on people's health. This is especially true for those who are already not in the best of health. Removing the need to relocate to a new premises and providing support in their own homes is, in most cases, the best possible way for these people to be cared for. Any guesses for what was lacking in this scenario? Technology!
Always being on the lookout for better ways of doing things, in looking for a solution to allow us to better manage our staff who worked out of the office, I was a little surprised that nothing really existed. There was one mobile app (of sorts) from the company who provided us with the software for our daily (desktop computer) rostering needs, but that only did about 10% of what I wanted, and a search for other mobile apps for healthcare providers yielded nothing. At this point in time, I wasn't interested in giving up and decided to develop an app myself. Little did I know how complex (and time-consuming and expensive) the process would be.
Fast forward 2 years and the application was finished and it was everything I hoped it would be. It allowed us to provide staff with realtime access to their rosters (rather than e-mailing updates whenever anything changed, which was often) as well as client details, plus get feedback from staff regarding how clients are going as well as have accurate records of when staff start and finish services. The app was also able to track the location of staff and calculate if they were likely to be late to see their next client, alerting us so we could call the client and let them know the staff member was on the way, rather than having them worry they'd been forgotten about, which is an all-too-common occurrence in the community healthcare environment. This mobile app (which we developed for Android) helped us operate more efficiently and provide our clients with a better level of service, which was the goal all along.
If only more companies and organisations in the healthcare industry would embrace technology (and more specifically, mobile apps) with the same goals, I think staff and patients alike would benefit.
Note: I don't think mobile apps are the only solution for improving the healthcare industry – there are plenty of other things that healthcare providers could do to embrace technology, but mobile apps can certainly deliver improvements in efficiency and operations for healthcare organisations, as well as many other industries of course, but that's a topic for another day.