Nemours Children's Health System is charging ahead with a digital agenda that aims to fully engage patients—and clinicians—in a mobile world. The Jacksonville, Fla.-based system already had its well-used KidsHealth website, which offers a plethora of educational and interactive materials. Now Nemours has launched a mobile app that lets asthma patients not only track and update their health information, but connect with a doctor immediately. The app ties directly into Nemours' electronic health record system. The app will roll out to other chronic conditions, but according to Gina Altieri, senior vice president and chief of strategy integration at Nemours, the ultimate goal is for it to become an integral part of care across Nemours' patient population. Altieri recently spoke with Modern Healthcare Managing Editor Matthew Weinstock. The following is an edited transcript.
Modern Healthcare: Looking at digital health, what are your goals in the context of consumerism and its impact on healthcare organizations?
Gina Altieri: We've developed a digital health strategy that is complementary to what already exists as far as our clinical care and our commitment to treating the whole child. What we want to do is take these digital tools that we believe the consumer is demanding and put them in their hands to meet them where they are.
We all know that today's consumers love convenience and love their digital tools. We want to help patients become better engaged in their care, as well as help the providers be able to be better involved in the patients' care.
MH: You say the consumer is demanding it. How do you know that they are demanding this kind of interaction?
Altieri: We have engaged them in this process from the beginning through a variety of forums. We use our KidsHealth platform to conduct surveys. We also conducted a variety of focus groups and interviews and we engaged our advisory councils, which include parents as well as patients. We've run this by them every step of the way.
MH: Were there particular things that you heard patients were most interested in?
Altieri: What we heard is that they don't really sit at a PC much anymore. They try to do everything from a mobile device. So we needed our digital properties to be responsive. We also heard that they would investigate. So they want transparency; they want to know what other people are saying about you. And they want it to be convenient. They'd like to see who the providers are and understand a little bit more about them; not just a static photo, but actually learn more about them.
MH: You also wanted to help providers. What's happening on that front?
Altieri: We are seeing some uptake. They are using telehealth; they find it to be simple and convenient. And they're also helping us launch the asthma app. We kicked off the asthma project a year ago. And we were able to actually launch a viable product last month.