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It was 4:00 A.M. last Sunday when I decided Apple could make a great deal of money and improve our healthcare by providing every nurse, doctor and patient with an iPod Touch.
An hour before my 4:00 A.M. epiphany, a resident I’d never seen before had woken me up in order to change my bandages.
As had happened many times before, as I came out of a fevered, morphine-aided sleep, I was immediately very cold. I started shaking violently with the chills.
The resident went ahead with changing my bandages anyway and my broken foot flopped around in a way other doctors haven’t let it since.
Here’s why this was all so frustrating: The resident should have known I’d get the tremors so bad, coming out of my sleep like that. It’d been happening for days.
There should have been a way for me and my nurses and doctors to make a note of this trend — or any other — so that any new nurse or doctor tending to me could quickly learn of it when approaching my bed.
But too often, nurses and doctors came into my room knowing little about me and my case. The problem was that there was only one chart with my information on it and it was buried in a file at the nurses’ kiosk.
There was no quick way for me and my care-takers to pool our knowledge about my case.
This lack of easy information flow is common problem in hospitals, according to Consumer Reports:
“It is estimated that less than 2 per cent of hospitals in the U.S. have comprehensive electronic records systems that make patient information readily available anywhere in the hospital. That means that you’ll have to be your own record keeper.”
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That’s where the iPod Touch comes in.
Along with renting patients phones and TVs (together they cost $12 a day at my hospital), hospitals should rent patients iPod Touches. On these iPods, there should be an app where a patient can keep notes.
Further, these notes should be available to nurses and doctors who would also be carrying iPod Touches.
To view them, they’d simply call up the health records app on the iPod and then punch in the patient’s ID number.
Any notes the doctor or nurse made would also be viewable by the patient. All three parties would be able to specify whom their notes should be viewable by — just the patient, just the doctor or just the doctor and nurse.
The notes could be video, text, audio, or photographic. I’ve had several nurses thank me for showing them a picture of the wound I keep on my iPhone before they re-do the bandages. It helps them proceed carefully and plan ahead.
Apple — or maybe a device maker using Google’s (GOOG) Android OS — could make a decent amount of money selling hospitals iPod Touches at discounted prices. But the real gains would be two-fold:
- Intense customer loyalty from patients who not only depended on the iPod Touch for access to information during their recovery, but also on its ability to distract them from their pain with videos, music and games. Apple’s (AAPL) been selling computers to schools for cheap for years to achieve the same trick.
- A vastly improved healthcare system.
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