Smartphone mobile app is dubbed “MicroHIS” by Holy Name Medical Center

At one community hospital in New Jersey, physicians love getting clinical laboratory test results over their smartphones or similar wireless devices. Radiology and cardiology results can also be accessed or viewed using this unique mobile app developed for use at Holy Name Medical Center in Tea Neck, New Jersey.

The story about mobile applications at Holy Name Medical Center demonstrates to pathologists and clinical laboratory managers how fast the world of healthcare informatics is evolving. It took just months for the hospital’s informatics department to create a customized application that allows physicians to use their smartphones and mobile devices to access most of the information managed by the hospital information system (HIS).

Idea for a Mobile App that Can Deliver Medical Laboratory Test Results

At 318-bed Holy Name Medical Center, this mobile app has been dubbed “MicroHIS.” It started with a brainstorm by the medical center’s Assistant Vice President of Information Technology, Michael Skvarenina. He had an epiphany while at dinner with a pediatrician who received a call from the hospital.

At Holy Name Medical Center in Tea Neck, New Jersey, the IT department created a mobile application—dubbed MicroHIS—that allowed physicians to use their smartphones and other wireless devices to access and view clinical laboratory test results, along with radiology and cardiology data. (Image sourced from MobiHealthNews.)

At Holy Name Medical Center in Tea Neck, New Jersey, the IT department created a mobile application—dubbed MicroHIS—that allowed physicians to use their smartphones and other wireless devices to access and view clinical laboratory test results, along with radiology and cardiology data. (Image sourced from MobiHealthNews.)

“She called back—she had a hard time trying to reach a nurse—and then [she] had data read back to her, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if you could do this on a phone?’” Skvarenina said in a Modern Healthcare article.

Several months of development later, MicroHIS rolled out at Holy Name. It took only two weeks for 77 physicians to sign up to be users on the system. Doctors use the mobile application (app) to receive results from the hospital’s clinical laboratory, and radiology and cardiology departments, as well as receive up-to-the-minute vitals on their patients. Physicians can also access and view admission and patient demographics information. They receive the data on their smartphones (e.g., iPhone, Android, BlackBerry) and other mobile devices.

The MicroHIS application is also changing how providers at the hospital communicate with each other. Physicians can reach on-duty nurses instantly with the touch of a screen icon. Physicians at Holy Name love their new healthcare tool!

“It’s so cool,” said Daniel Smith, M.D. and Director of Gynecologic Oncology in the same Modern Healthcare article. “When they page you, you get a beep on your phone, you open up to the patient and bingo. You hit the button and you’re talking to the nurse. You can get vital signs and the labs, so you get a heads up about that. When you’re on the fly, it hits the nail on the head. It’s efficient and it’s very simple. It’s sort of life-altering.”

“MicroHIS is a certified stroke of genius!” said Alan Felsen, M.D., in an email to Skvarenina. “Just trying it out the other day—it had exactly the information I needed to keep in touch with the family of a very ill patient. Labs were really helpful. But the cell number for the family, too? Right at my fingertips? Very neat!”

Physicians Can Get Medical Laboratory Test Results on Their Smart Phones

Skvarenina is the man of the hour at Holy Name. Physicians love the new tool, which pushes patient data, including medical laboratory test results, out to their various mobile handheld devices from the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR). Holy Name physicians are even contributing ideas to streamline the MicroHIS interface for their specific needs.

“We’re thrilled,” said Skvarenina. “The physicians love our application. They’ve helped to build it. They come to us and say, it would be great to do this, and we build it.”

“The real advantage in designing our own software is that we can react in a heartbeat to feedback from our staff,” he said in a press release. “We are in total control of our application and its functionality.”

Physician involvement seems to be the key for caregivers who have struggled with unusable EMR interfaces for years before the advent of the iPhone. Since then, iPhone developers have released mobile apps that are both exciting to use and truly functional. The popularity of iPhone apps also drove demand for similar apps in the Android marketplace as well. Now competition is expanding the number of mobile apps and the types of functions they perform. This gives physicians a plethora of choices when it comes to the mHealth technology they want to use.

“The interesting thing is, for 25 years, people have been saying at the CIO level—‘if we could only get our docs to type or write on the computer, we’d have an electronic medical-record system,’ said C. Peter Waegemann, Vice President of mHealth Initiative. “Now they—the docs and nurses—are saying, ‘I use those [mobile devices] at home, with my children. I do my banking [on them], why can’t I use them here? Even the older doctors say, ‘I love these things!’

“Most hospitals only three or four years ago had signs—no cell phones allowed,” Waegemann continued. “Now, they’re saying this is the hottest tool to get our electronic health-record systems going.”

For clinical laboratory managers and pathologists, the swift development of Holy Name Medical Center’s MicroHIS mobile application—along with the eager acceptance by physicians and staff—is an excellent real-world example of why every medical laboratory needs to be prepared to serve the demand for mobile apps. It is now easier, faster, and cheaper than at any time in the past to create new software applications that add value to physicians.

The good news is that the rapid improvements in information technology can be used by clinical laboratories and pathology groups to improve the value of the medical laboratory testing services they provide to physicians, patients, and payers. The bad news is that, for those clinical laboratory organizations who limit themselves to a “do nothing” strategy, the competitive marketplace is likely to leave them far behind.

—Michael McBride

Related Information:

There’s an App for That (Modern Healthcare)

Holy Name Medical Center Offers its Physicians Mobile Technology Unique to Bergen County Hospitals (Press Release)