Smart phone application is digital library of information for health care

Technology has transformed the way people consume information. People can access entire libraries of information just by opening an application on their smart phone or tablet or by wirelessly accessing the web. Dr. Sundaram Hariharan at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa has taken advantage of that trend and created a digital reference guide for health care professionals taking care of renal (kidney) transplant patients.

“Historically, health care professionals would go back to textbooks, or computers or refer to what we called a pocket card of information if we needed to look up something regarding a patient,” said Hariharan, chief and professor of medicine in the division of nephrology at Froedtert and the Medical College of Wisconsin. “I realized it would be much more helpful if we could convert that information into an easy-to-access, organized, application on the Apple iPhone.”

Hariharan worked with local application developer Bryan Sevener, chief executive officer of DiGiApps in Cedarburg to produce the application.

“Dr. Hariharan came to me and asked if we could take the information that was packed onto the pocket card and organize it in an easy-to-read, reference guide type way,” he said. “That’s how we came up with the application’s current version.”

The pocket card was a four-sided piece of paper filled with similar information, Hariharan said.

Tables and charts on the card were crammed in among very small text which was sometimes difficult to read easily.

“People carry their phones around everywhere. Now, health care professionals or patients have access to a digital reference guide for the treatment of patients with renal transplantation,” Hariharan said. “The information provided in the application easily identifies common practices used when managing the care of a kidney transplant patient. It’s meant to serve as a reference point for health care professionals or training purposes.”

According to Hariharan, the application organizes information in seven categories related to the treatment of kidney transplant patients. Some of those categories include immunization, medical management and treatment of viral infections.

“The categories offer reference points for health care professionals managing the care,” Hariharan said.

The application, like a text book, offers treatment advice specifically for kidney transplant patients. Examples of some of the information available in the guide is proven research indicating which vaccines are safe for kidney transplant patients and which ones caused a negative reaction, Hariharan said. The application also includes information about medications, and other treatment options for specific case situations.

“We’ve expanded on the information found on the pocket card and organized it in its most basic form,” Hariharan said. “It can act as a sort of ‘mini-bible’ for the managed care information (available) out there.”

The application works well for existing health care professionals or medical students training in nephrology, Hariharan said.

“It also works well in rural or in lesser developed countries where fewer resources can hinder the access health care professionals have to information,” he added.

According to Sevener, the application is fully functioning even without wireless access to the internet.

“We knew we wanted to make the information permanently accessible,” Sevener said. “So once it’s downloaded, all of the information is available just by opening the application.”

The application will be updated regularly as significant changes or developments in treatment occur, Hariharan said.

Since its launch in early September, the application has been downloaded more than 100 times from regions all over the world including the United States, Australia, the Middle East and other countries throughout Europe and South America, Sevener said.

The Renal Transplant application is available for purchase from the Apple App Store for $2.99. Portions of the proceeds of the application will benefit the Medical College of Wisconsin education and research fund. Sevener is currently working on an Android application as well.

“We’re hoping to expand the use of the application to more people,” Hariharan said. “We’re in discussion with some national organizations who are interested in the uses of the application and we’re hoping to be able to expand with their help.”

While the Renal Transplant application is focused on a very specific area, the technology can be used in other fields where information management might be useful, Hariharan said.

“We feel we could expand this technology, this digital information data base to other areas of medicine,” Hariharan said. “It’s a great way for health care professionals to reference what they need when they need it.”

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