Tech Savvy New Parents Go Mobile with Tracking Apps

By Jennifer Dennard
08:16 AM

A new year always brings with it new bundles of joy – not to mention new, nervous parents. Five (yes, five) of my girlfriends have all had babies within the last two months, making 2012 a year that will be filled with firsts for all.

I returned to Northside Hospital to visit one of them a few weeks ago. As I walked into the “baby factory,” as it’s affectionately known in Atlanta, I realized it was the first time I’d been there as anything other than a brand-new mom. My friend, her husband and their new arrival seemed to be enjoying the same great treatment I had during my previous stays. 

As I sat rocking the baby, I listened to a nurse explain to my friends the need to keep a chart of the baby’s feedings and diaper changes. She promptly handed them a paper chart upon which to write everything down. I couldn’t help but think to myself, ‘there’s got to be an app for that,” especially when afterwards the new dad promptly pulled out his iPad to check in with family members on Facebook.

Sure enough, after a brief search in the iTunes App Store, I realized there are quite a few apps to help new parents record these types of things. Some seem to be tied into personal health record-like tools. All are very inexpensive, if not completely free. None, however, seemed to be affiliated with or developed by a specific hospital or physician – an affiliation that would make me all the more compelled to trust such a tool.

I would think this would be something that a hospital, particularly one with a reputation like Northside’s, would like this to offer patients at the bedside, or to at least tell them about upon discharge, before the really sleepless nights and resultant daytime haze set in.

I could also see tools like this somehow being integrated into, or at least advertised on, bedside infotainment applications, such as those provided by companies like GetWellNetwork. And for that matter, it seems like there might be good cross-branding/marketing opportunity between app developers and the formula companies that offer new parents take-home bags filled with their products.

We all know mobile health is a hot topic these days. It seems to me that patient-facing apps like these will be key in moving folks to a constant state of awareness when it comes to the health and wellbeing of their families, which in turn will be integral to getting their buy-in for future coordinated/accountable care programs.

Time will tell, of course, if our children will grow into even tech savvier, healthier adults than we are.

Jennifer Dennard is Social Marketing Director for Atlanta-based Billian's HealthDATA, Porter Research and Connect with her on Twitter @SmyrnaGirl.