Android On Call: Hospital Builds Custom Mobile App for Patient Data

Palomar Pomerado Health in San Diego built its own Android app for accessing real-time patient information, with Cisco Cius tablets providing the added bonus of voice and video. And an iOS version is coming up, stat.

Fri, February 24, 2012

CIO — Despite being on the cutting edge of science, the medical field can be slow to adopt new technology.

However, modern hospitals are embracing mobile technology more and more as user -friendly devices and data-rich applications become available. The iPhone and iPad led the consumerization of IT movement and iPad use has already extended to hospitals, with doctors demanding iPads and other tablets to take their work with them as they roam the halls and see more patients.

Is the iPad a panacea for physician productivity? No, not yet. Security concerns and incompatibility with desktop apps have some medical CIOs thinking twice about full-scale iPad adoption. But the iPad's portability, ease-of-use and connection to a wealth of apps is opening doors for mobile technology in medicine and other industries.

But it's not only Apple's iOS that's catching the medical field's attention. Google's Android OS, generally considered to be a more open platform than the proprietary iOS, is also being used in hospitals and other industries along with customized mobile apps.

Palomar Pomerado Health in San Diego, Calif., is one public health system that has improved its workflow and culture by developing its own Android medical apps.

A patient profile on Palomar Health's MIAA app on a Cisco Cius tablet.

In 2010, PPH, which includes two hospitals in the San Diego area and is the largest hospital district in California, kicked off a project to build its own mobile healthcare platform called MIAA (Medical Information Anytime Anywhere).

The centerpiece of MIAA is a specialized mobile app that pulls in data from the hospital's legacy system to give physicians all the information they need on a patient in real time.

The MIAA mobile app was developed for the Android OS and the creation process was run much like a start-up company by Orlando Portale, Palomar's chief innovation officer.

"We sandboxed it outside the IT organization at Palomar and got funding for it and used contract resources," says Portale, who adds that the main priority is to use the MIAA app at Palomar and its affiliates, but also plans to sell it as an independent product to other hospitals and health care facilities.

Here's how MIAA works: Physicians log in to the app, which uses location services to generate a list of their patients who are currently in the hospital. The app communicates with patients' RFID wristbands to determine their whereabouts. And the list is auto generated and sorted by patients who are closest in proximity to the doctor accessing the app.

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