Look around a doctor's office and you'll likely find anatomical models showing the inside of vital organs. Or the walls might be littered with posters of organ cut-outs.
Now Boston Scientific Corp. announced last week an iPad app that helps clinicians educate patients and caregivers about cardiovascular diseases, heart failure, arrhythmias, heart rhythm disorders, as well as therapy options. The app, called CardioTeach (free), also shows how the heart works.
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All of the information is contained in slides with anatomical illustrations and bullet points. Users can type notes right on the slides, overlay images such as a pacemaker and lead wires atop the illustrations, and even use fingers to draw lines and circles on the illustrations (think: football analysts explaining plays to television audiences).
These marked-up slides can be emailed to patients directly from the app , too.
But CardioTeach could be improved. There isn't much information contained in the slides, and patients with serious heart problems will want to know more about their condition. There is no video or sound. While users can swipe between slides, they aren't able to expand illustrations.
Nevertheless, CardioTeach is a giant leap from the old anatomical models and represents a new way for doctors to interact with patients. While CardioTeach only targets the heart, similar apps could be made for different parts of the body. And it's not a leap to imagine other service industries coming out with similar customer-facing apps. For instance, a mechanic could show a customer what is wrong with a car.
CardioTeach is one of many iPad apps aimed at clinicians. Earlier this year, GE Healthcare and AirStrip Technologies created an app called AirStrip that lets doctors monitor electrocardiograph data remotely. One of the most popular iPhone apps is Epocrates, a drug reference app for physicians.
What's driving iPad apps in healthcare? The industry has quickly emerged as a leading iPad adopter, according to Apple. "We had physicians coming to us as soon as the first iPad came into the Apple Store wanting to connect everything," John McLendon, CIO of AHS Information Services, the IT division of Adventist Health System (AHS), a not-for-profit healthcare provider with 44 hospitals, told me earlier this year.
Texas Health Resources, a healthcare provider with 24 hospitals, says the iPad cuts the desktop computer cord resulting in doctors and nurses spending more time with patients. Ferdinand Velasco, M.D., chief medical information officer at Texas Health, estimates some 40 percent of doctors have iPads.