Sometimes simple is the best. I recently tried a new smartphone app – Doximity Dialer
– that is just that. I have been so struck by it that I have started showing it off to people at any opportunity. It is incredibly simple to use (from download to using it in <5 minutes) and solves a straightforward, but common problem. It is 8pm and you’re at home working on messages in your EHR. You need to call your patient back about a lab test result. Enter this conundrum… You can either use *67 to block your caller ID in which case the patient will think it is a telemarketer calling and not answer. Or you can leave your caller ID on, in which case the patient now has your cel phone number. While some physicians have become comfortable with their patients having their cel phone numbers, many still have not.
Doximity Dialer allows you to “trick” Caller ID into showing a phone number of your choice, e.g. your office number, to the call recipient. This means that you can make calls to patients from your cel phone, but the patient sees your office number on Caller ID. Now, they recognize the number as their doctor and will answer the phone, and doctors do not have to feel squeamish that a patient will have their personal cell phone number.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service, according to this Telegraph article, plans to start recommending that physicians start prescribing certain mobile health apps to their patients. Examples include electronic reminders to check blood sugar or take a medication. Though I’m not sure that the examples provided present the strongest use cases possible for mobile health apps, I think they’re certainly on the right track. An app that increases the probability that someone remembers to take their medications regularly should accomplish improved healthcare outcomes and improved value.
We have to find ways of building mobile applications that patients find engaging, that they are willing to use, and that will empower them to take charge of their health. Apps that do these things should save the system money and improve healthcare outcomes. The NHS clearly thinks that some of these apps are ready to start serving those functions. It will be a nice experiment to see if they’re right.