Years ago, as I prepared to write a book on use of social media in healthcare, I signed on and really liked FourSquare. They split the app a couple of years later and it lost value for me. But, I still think about the possibilities of location apps in healthcare. For example, how do I get from registration to the clinic in a large academic medical center. Or, from one department to another in my local community hospital.
Now that I have my patient experience, including getting lost in the vast underground parking structure at UCLA - when walking and fatigue were huge challenges for me - I think about mobile apps for way finding again. But, social and mobile has evolved, so I want to see more.
As I wander around some environment, I want an alert that I passed the hallway to the outpatient laboratory. Or, a reminder as I exit the building that I forgot (due to brain fog) to stop by the pharmacy (instead of figuring this out when I get back to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles). It would also be nice if I arrive early for an appointment (because I drive so far through LA traffic) that I be alerted to the onsite cafeteria or coffee cart, instead of me hobbling to the places I actually saw in Westwood as I drove onto the campus. At least, I have a sense of the journey ahead of me. And, perhaps as I'm staring at my tablet while having a Latte (yes, regular milk, please); I could also get an alert that I better start heading back to the building where my doctor is located if I want to make it there on time.
New companies like, Radar, launched by two former FourSquare execs, may finally be able to give me what I'm looking for in a more robust app for healthcare or otherwise. For example, I really enjoyed checking in when I traveled for business. Why? I then had a record of that great little restaurant I found in Minnesota and could make my way back their even if I forgot the name. This reminds me I use to be a hospital administrator....
So, we have all of this equipment and instruments in the hospital, I keep signing purchase orders to buy more and stuff (expensive stuff) keeps getting lost. Where is it? My daughter's iPhone told us the location of the young lady who stole her phone. Why can't we get a tracking app that tells us the portable vent was left in the UCLA ER when we transferred that really sick patient three days ago; or that it is still riding around in the ambulance - currently headed north on the 101 Freeway. Perhaps, it might also reveal that some really expensive surgical tool that we "had" to have (and can't be found) is now sitting in the outpatient surgery center down the street.
As a volunteer, nurse or other staff member, I want to know where the wheelchairs are located --- and if anyone is sitting in them. Because the hunt for a wheelchair is time consuming, and patients and other staff are waiting. Some innovative staff have taken to hiding just one wheelchair for when it is needed. If I'm standing in a hallway, I'd like to know there is a wheelchair in empty patient room 237, or in the supply closet behind the nursing station. And, if someone took my unit's wheelchair and didn't bring it back, I want to know who it was (because they scanned their ID) and where it is currently.
I'd also like to invite all of those visitors in the hospital to enjoy lunch in our healthy cafeteria with great food, instead of driving over to the In & Out down the street. (Today, every dollar matters.) If they are with their loved one for prolonged periods of time, they might appreciate a message that tells them there are freshly baked cookies in the cafeteria, about the prayer service starting in the chapel or the caregiver support group later that evening.
I'd also like them to know about the gift shop.... and the ability to order online and have items delivered to the patient by friendly volunteers. I don't want to hope that they actually pass by the gift shop and at that exact moment think, "oh, I should get a little gift."
Getting back to that UCLA massive underground parking structure, perhaps that app could direct me to the parking spot closest to the building of my appointment. This is especially important when you can't walk very far, are a fall risk and haven't yet received your handicap placard (took 2 months).
So, Radar, I'm counting on you for more robust and relevant tools at my fingertips. This means you will need to know where I am in space, where I came from and where I'm headed. In turn, you will make my journey more efficient, effective and entertaining.