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#NowTrending: This Week’s MedTech News

We bring you this week’s medtech news, from Boston and beyond:

DFG_2014-08-20-23-57-24 1. Walgreens to offer smartphone app allowing for virtual doctor appointments in 25 states 

By the end of the year, approximately 40 million more patients will be able to receive 24/7-access to doctors through telemedicine services, reports the Associated Press, furthering the virtual healthcare push.  UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer, and Blue-Cross Blue Shield insurer Anthem are on the forefront of this innovation, as both plan to expand their own telemedicine services this year as well.  Convenient, inexpensive ($49 with no coverage) and modern, these Internet non-emergency visits will allow patients to receive care and treatment for conditions that do not require a physical exam, such as allergies, sinus infections or pink eye.

Doctors generally favor this advancement, providing that the information from the virtual visit is shared with the patient’s regular physician and safety is maintained.  The extent of the care a patient can receive differs by state, as some states require doctors to have an established in-person relationship with the patient before scheduling a virtual one.

“I can see a real benefit there,” Dr. Robert Wergin said to the Associated Press, as he believes these services can specifically help many of his older patients who have difficulty getting out of the house.

2. Majority of Nurses Use Smartphones at Work 

In a recent survey of 241 nurses conducted by InCrowd, researchers reported that of the 95% of nurses who own a smartphone, 88% of them use apps in their daily operations at work.  Previous reports show only 67% of medical residents used their smartphones in a clinical setting, indicating that this figure is continually growing.  Two major reasons why:

  • Increased access to information:  Of the 88% of nurses who use apps, 73% used apps to access drug information, and 72% used looked up different diseases and disorders.
  • Increased efficiency: 69% used their smartphone to touch base with their colleagues in the hospital.  On the other hand, 52% say they used their smartphone in place of contacting another nursing colleague, while 32% used in in place of contacting a physician.

“It’s often easier to get the information needed using my smartphone – I don’t have to wait for a response from a coworker,” one respondent explained.

Nurses, however, emphasize that smartphones enhance but not substitute the need to consult a physician prior to administering care.

3. myHDL Physician App Expands to Apple Watch 

Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc. (HDL, Inc.) announced recently that their previously released iOS app for iPhone and iPad will now be available on the Apple Watch.  The app allows for the company’s provider partners to view and manage patient cases, monitor health trends over time, and access lab results and treatment suggestions.

In addition to these functions, the Apple Watch version will also incorporate up-to-the-minute push notifications of patients’ reports as soon as they are available from the laboratory to ensure efficient disease management.

“HDL, Inc. is thrilled to release this update in stride with Apple’s latest digital health innovation,” saidPresident and CEO of HDL, Inc. Joseph McConnell in a statement.

Nicole Yang

Nicole Yang

    Nicole Yang is an editorial intern at MedTech Boston. She is currently a rising senior at Amherst College, where she studies Neuroscience. During the academic year, Nicole is the Managing Editor of The Amherst Student and has also worked as a Chemistry laboratory teaching assistant. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys playing squash and practicing yoga. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Yang12.

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