Digital health startup Nightingale Apps has completed the beta version of Know My Patient, an app for nurses. Backed by a Northeastern University accelerator, it aims to launch a pilot by the end of the year.
Know My Patient is an app to help nurses more effectively manage patient information. It’s the brainchild of Tiffany Kelley, who holds a PhD from Duke University, an MBA from Northeastern and has spent 17 years in nursing.
Kelley drew inspiration for the app as she watched electronic health records transform the industry and present nurses with a new challenge: spending less time getting to know patients and more time entering patient information into the system.
“After we put the [electronic health record] system in, off the cuff I started to hear nurses say, ‘I feel like I don’t know my patients anymore,’” said Kelley, who helped implement the EHR at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It wasn’t anything that was being brought up as a burning issue. It was in passing conversation. But it was something I heard from enough different people that it stuck with me.”
That wasn’t the only change ushered in by EHRs, according to Kelley. During her PhD research, Kelley saw that nurses were more frequently using scrap paper to jot down patient information—essentially, handwritten notes that would be entered into the system later. Scrap paper is fairly common among nurses and other healthcare professionals, who often use it to take notes on patients during the handoff between shifts. But Kelley observed that small but important details about patients were sometimes lost along the way, either during the handoff or electronic data entry.
“I did pediatrics and that often meant delivering medications in a certain order, using the right pacifier, or approaching the patient in a certain way so they wouldn’t be fearful,” she said. “All those things are really essential to delivering the ‘Know My Patient’ experience but they don’t live in the medical record.”
Kelley founded Nightingale Apps in 2013 and turned to Northeastern’s IDEA venture accelerator for support in developing Know My Patient, an app that allows nurses to take digital notes on each patient and gives multiple nurses access to that information. Her vision and experience impressed the accelerator’s leadership, including professor and entrepreneur-in-residence Bob Lentz.
“I think Tiffany understood a real, pressing problem that exists with nurses in this exchange of information,” said Lentz, who has worked with IDEA for five years.
The biggest challenge, he said, is convincing hospital administrators to adopt the technology. “At some point there’s going to be a bit of a tug of war between nurses who say ‘this is a great product’ with administrators who just say, ‘we have this other enterprise software product that we want you to use,’ and nurses don’t believe that product is good for them or effective for them,” said Lentz. “There’s an opportunity for it, but that’s the real challenge—to get enough of her specific customer demographic, nurses, to start using it.”
Kelley expressed confidence that the product would catch on. “It’s providing a more efficient, timely, patient-centered way for care delivery and more consistency of information,” she said. “[Nursing] is a challenging environment. We’re with the patient 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our responsibility is to the patient. We have to deliver the best possible care that we can.”
With the beta version of the app completed, Nightingale Apps hopes to launch a pilot by the end of the year. The pilot site has not yet been finalized.
Amy Pollard is a candidate for the MA in Communication and International Relations at Boston University. Her interest in health care began with her first trip to Tanzania, where she volunteered at a medical dispensary in a rural village and saw firsthand how access to health care impacts patients. She’s excited to learn about health care technology in Boston. She’s originally from Seattle and holds a B.A. in English from Saint Martin’s University. When she’s not writing, she’s probably drinking coffee, making tacos or watching Parks and Rec. Follow her @amyannexu.
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