Monday, May 10, 2010

There's an Ap for that....

Some of you that know me well – know that growing up some people had pictures of Rock Stars on their walls – not me I had a file cabinet and books by Jack Welch. (I am serious, I asked for a file cabinet when I was 12 so I would have some place to store my budgets and letters). In other words – my rock stars were CEOs, movie producers, innovative genius, and other leaders. So, being able to talk with a great CEO is always high on my list.

I had a great conversation with Rob Campbell the CEO of Voalte. Rob, as you might know, has worked with the likes of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates on a little program – not well known at all – PowerPoint among others. Just talking to him was incredible. He has an amazing business mind and a keen understanding of the healthcare marketplace – which is surprising since he didn’t come from the file and ranks of an EMR vendor, medical device manufacture, etc. He is really an outsider who has stepped in to help launch the first Healthcare iPhone “App” for medical device connectivity.

What do you really think about that – an iPhone in the healthcare environment? Since I have been through 4 (yes, really) in the last two years I am a bit skeptical. The device, while loaded with features, is fragile. Dropping at the right angle can shatter a screen (been there) – not to mention that scratching a screen can render the device useless (done that). In addition the battery life can be – let’s say challenging (got the t-shirt). I have worked with wireless internal communication devices in hospitals for more than 10 years. They are as abused as a rental car in a third world country. That’s why Cisco rushed to replace earlier models that weren’t suited for being crushed by a Stryker bed, Ascom has made their phone survive the swim that often occurs when a Caregiver helps a patient off the toilet, and Spectralink’s case can be dropped and kicked down the hall.

Now, before you throw your hands up and run screaming from the device think about the flexibilities of what they have just developed. The Apple iPhone is one of the most user friendly devices on the market. If you are using the wireless device to receive patient calls and the average patient call per hour is 1.5 then making the “answer” function easy is essential. I challenge you to try answering a Cisco phone. (Hint: there are more than 3 button pushes to answer and speak with a patient) I don't claim to have experienced the Volate Answer process, but from what I have seen it appears very straightfoward.

Stop for a moment and think about the flexibility of this concept. How many Nurses currently have a “Smart Phone”? How many are using the facebook, twitter, yelp, urban spoon, or other crazy ap? The device is like a piece of clay that can be molded to it’s environment.  Aside from that it's fun and easy use.  The smart phone can display pictures, it can use decision assistance medical programs, and that little thing – enter information into the EMR.

If I didn’t say I was enamored with the concept – I would not be truthful. We are talking about Apple here – Steve Jobs is the Walt Disney of cool gadgets.   If I didn’t love my iPhone why would I have spent the money to replace and repair it 4 times...or maybe 5.   The device is great – it offers a lot flexibility to the hospital workflow. Some may argue that it also provides a lot of challenges for a hospital when it comes to policy of what is appropriate use, but no more so than a PC.

I recommend checking out their new website

BTW - anyone who wants to indulge me the one CEO who has been on my list for years is Meg Whitman, former CEO of Ebay.

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Kourtney Govro