There's many a slip between a physician's instructions, a care manager's plan and the patient's recollection.
Now there are apps to reduce that slippage.
Wellpepper's entry in the space provides regular communication between clinicians and patients about their treatment plans. Like many information technology-based medical innovations, there's a personal story behind its creation.
“My mom contracted a rare auto-immune disease and spent six months in the hospital,” said Anne Weiler, co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based Wellpepper. “She was sent home with no instructions, and a month before she had her next check-in. I thought, 'This is ridiculous.' ”
It also was common, she said. So Weiler and company co-founder Mike Van Snellenberg, now the chief technology officer, launched Wellpepper in December 2012.
The Wellpepper app runs on mobile devices with either Google's Android or Apple's iOS operating systems. The company collaborates with provider organizations to customize the app to fit their needs.
“We don't have any content,” Weiler said. “We work with health systems to implement their own protocols, and they personalize it for each patient.”
For clinicians, the app aggregates and categorizes patient-reported data on dashboards so physicians and care managers can keep track of patient performance. For patients, the app offers instant feedback about their care instructions.
Patient-engagement app developers like Wellpepper “(are) on the right side of history,” said Dr. Joe Smith, chief medical and science officer at the West Health Institute in San Diego. “The boomers are not just familiar with this technology, they expect information to come to them that way. If we think we're going to get away with instructions poorly written on paper, that's a big mistake.”