A few months ago, an app was released to help better connect physicians with one another. docBeat, created by Sunny Tara and Dr. Dhiraj Narula, is free and available for the iPhone. The app is secure and can only be accessed by licensed physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. However, docBeat is currently working on an app and web version that will allow clinical staff to have secure text messaging with doctors, nurse practitioners and PA’s as well.
Medical professionals who use this app are given a second, private number that is shown to other doctors but is connected to the smart phone they are using. This allows a doctor to maintain privacy of their personal line. One of the cool things about this app is that the user will be able to tell immediately whether the doctor (or nurse) they are contacting is available, and, if not, a number to reach them is made available. The app has a directory with information about every single physician and hospital in the United States.
With so many doctors turning to social media and smart phones, it only makes sense for doctors to use this tools to communicate with one another. However, Sunny Tara said this isn’t necessarily the case, and a lot of time is wasted trying to get in contact with one another.
There is a big gap in the tools doctors use to communicate. If you look at what they use, it’s still 1950s switchboard technology. Even though 90 percent of doctors have smart phones, they will use switchboards and pagers.
Tara believes that this app will improve efficiency in clinics and hospitals, which will in turn improve care:
If you make doctor’s more efficient, it will improve patient care. In the end we will all be winners.
Just to get a better feel for what a user of this app will see, here are a few screen shots provided by Apple:
This is the basic directory for the app. It looks easy to navigate. Notifications show up whenever a text or call from another doctor or nurse is sent.
This actually shows what a contact card looks like. As you can see, “Lisa Smith” is busy and has another doctor on-call for her. It’s nice because users are able to add personal messages, describing why they are busy and when they will be back.
I definitely agree with Tara; the way those in the medical field communicate could be improved. Not only would this decrease the amount of time waiting to see if someone is busy (because, even when a doctor isn’t busy, it seems like they are sometimes impossible to get a hold of), but other details, such as the on-call doctor, is readily available. What might have taken a significant amount of time in the past can be done in only a matter of a few minutes. I’d love to see more doctors grasping this idea. It does seem like it would increase efficiency and making certain processes go more smoothly in the office.
The app is free for certified medical professionals, however, the company is planning on releasing a more “premium app” in July that does have a fee. docBeat was created to be HIPAA compliant and to avoid potential liability issues. The app can be downloaded here for the iPhone.