New smartphone app targets clinical miscommunication
With more and more doctors using their smartphones to conduct business outside of the office, the potential for communication errors – ranging from misunderstood directions to "he-said-she-said" moments – is increasing dramatically.
A New Jersey-based surgeon has created a mobile app designed to help doctors make sure their phone conversations are understood properly. The MedXCom app, part of a line of mHealth products developed by Giffen Solutions, records and stores the phone conversation between doctor and patient, giving both parties a HIPAA-compliant means of checking the facts.
"All we're doing is creating an environment where these messages are secure," said Michael Nusbaum, a bariatric surgeon at Morristown Medical Center who launched Giffen Solutions in 2010. "If (both doctor and patient) know their conversation is being recorded, this makes them more comfortable. This actually bumps up the level of conversation and improves the level of care."
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Nusbaum said the idea of securely recording doctor-patient conversations came out of an unfortunate legal situation faced by a colleague. A woman had filed suit against his colleague over medical instructions given over the phone for her husband, and Nusbaum was drawn into the court battle over exactly what was said in the phone conversation.
"We need to avoid those 'he-said-she-said' moments and make sure there are no mistakes," said Nusbaum. "The future is in smartphones, and they're becoming a comfort tool for doctors."
Nusbaum began his career in mobile health IT back in 1998, when he founded Hamilton Scientific on the concept of creating a cloud-based electronic medical record. He eventually sold the company to MeridianEMR, and continued to explore how EMRs could evolve from what he called static data repositories to systems that could be more dynamic. Giffen Solutions was borne out of that idea, and MedXCom was created to connect EMRs to mobile devices and allow for real-time access and adjustments.
MedXCom, which is designed to work with any EMR, enables the physician to access a patient's medical records on a smartphone before or during the conversation, and to add the conversation to the medical record. The patient-facing side of the product enables patients to add information to the app, make appointments and receive reminders. Another product, MedXVault, allows consumers to use the app regardless of whether their physician is a MedXCom subscriber.
[See also: Smartphones, medical apps used by 80 percent of docs.]
Nusbaum, who sees MedXCom as an alternative to answering services and after-hours messaging services that many physicians now use, said he's hoping to have more than 50,000 physicians in all 50 states using MedXCom by the end of the year.