Rex Healthcare has become the latest Triangle hospital system to develop a smartphone app.
The free app, which is available for Android phones and the iPhone, is specifically targeted at Rex cancer patients. It allows patients to track their medications and appointments and collect all the names and contact information for their physician team in a central location.
The app also allows patients to connect with other cancer patients and share resources.
“A lot of the features that are in the app are things that patients are currently keeping on scraps of paper, they’re maintaining in notebooks,” said Lisa Schiller, Rex’s vice president of marketing. “This app will allow them to have everything that they need in one location.”
Rex is working with Durham-based SmartOnline to develop a suite of apps over time targeting different patient populations. The next one to launch will be for members of Rex’s five wellness centers in Wake County.
Rex’s rival, WakeMed, was one of the first hospitals in the state to offer a mobile app. Since launching two years ago, the app has been downloaded nearly 7,000 times, said Deb Laughery, WakeMed’s vice president of public relations.
WakeMed’s app targets a broad audience and is primarily intended to help nonpatients choose an emergency department. The app identifies the nearest emergency department and tells people what the wait time is at that facility. It also allows users to find a physician with a particular specialty within the WakeMed system.
“It’s as much as anything helping people to access the system,” Laughery said.
Duke University’s Area Health Education Center has also developed a free app, Polyglot Med Spanish, that was released last year for iPhones and is designed to help clinicians communicate with Spanish-speaking patients. The app offers audio translations of more than 3,000 common words and phrases. Polyglot has been downloaded more than 11,000 times by iPhone users and an Android version was released last month.
Rex’s app is aimed at the roughly 3,200 new cancer patients a year, plus the thousands more existing patients who return for periodic checkups. Jason Papagan, Rex’s eMarketing manager, said cancer patients were a natural fit for an app, given the length and complexity of treatments they undergo.
Cancer patients also tend to be used to going online to find out more information.
“That is a community that is very active online, connecting with other cancer patients,” Papagan said.