3 years in, here's what the Apple and IBM MobileFirst for iOS partnership has achieved

The companies have created six health apps to date, and the unique partnership has more planned for the future.
By Bill Siwicki
10:51 AM
Apple and IBM MobileFirst

When Apple CEO Tim Cook and IBM chief Ginni Rometty revealed that the rivals were partnering on mobile apps for vertical industries three years ago, the deal was a giant surprise to many in the healthcare and technology sectors.

Now, July 15 will mark the three-year anniversary of that partnership, dubbed MobileFirst for iOS. While the companies said they have thus far created more than 100 enterprise iOS apps across 15 industries, the three-year mark is a good time to take a look at the apps that have gained traction in healthcare.

Apple and IBM, as of now, have developed a half-dozen enterprise, hospital-grade software programs. Publicly available apps are not the entire story, however, as the tech stalwarts also are building custom apps for specific customers, according to Sue Miller-Sylvia, vice president of IBM MobileFirst for iOS Solutions. Miller-Sylvia added that 3,800 organizations, including hospitals and health systems, are using MobileFirst for iOS apps.

Let’s take a look at the six market-ready commercial apps for healthcare.

Hospital Lead enables charge nurses and care managers to view at-a-glance displays of activity across an entire nursing unit so they can prioritize activities based on information to facilitate discharges and, ideally, improve the patient experience.

Case Manager puts reference information at the fingertips of hospital case managers, enabling them to provide better care and maximize the time spent with patients.

Hospital MD provides physicians with access to more comprehensive patient data, effective task management tools, and the ability to share and communicate with care teams to improve patient outcomes and reduce care costs.

Hospital RN, meanwhile, facilitates more effective and efficient care delivery by allowing nurses to tap into information from integrated systems of record, prioritize tasks, and have continuous access to critical patient information while staying connected to colleagues and care workers.

Hospital Tech assists nursing technicians in prioritizing their patient tasks by allowing them to view and act on dynamically updated patient information.

And Message for Healthcare enables members of the care team to exchange sensitive patient information at the point of contact when it matters without compromising patient privacy, improving speed and quality of patient care with the assurance that all messages are HIPAA-compliant.

While six might not seem like very many apps for tech giants to produce in three years time, Miller-Sylvia explained that the vendors also work closely with hospital IT shops to create custom-built iOS apps designed for the specific needs of an organization’s employees.

“The focus – whether it is a nurse, physician or care manager – is to leverage data to deliver insight that enables the employee to take the best course of action and be more proactive,” she explained. These often involve advanced analytics and cognitive capabilities of IBM Watson.

IBM and Apple intend to extend their partnership as clients’ needs evolve.

“Enterprises today are quick to realize the benefits of mobile as an accelerator for their digital transformation,” Miller-Sylvia said. “The conversation is now shifting from wanting a single app to creating multiple apps tailored for their specific needs. Many of our healthcare clients today are interested in broader enterprise transformation, putting iOS apps in the hands of professionals – beyond medical teams – across an organization.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com

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