Having a baby? There’s an app for that. Smartphone applications are no longer limited to shooting aliens and finding recipes. Doctors at Alegent Health can monitor pregnant patients through phones. After the mother-to-be checks into the hospital data such as fetal heart rate is recorded by the hospital’s central system. The AirStrip OB smartphone app ties into that central system and transmits information to physicians in a real-time format. According to AirStrip OB product manager Layne Haney, doctors open the app on their iPod, Blackberry or Android phone and view a list of patients. A patient’s virtual real-time “waveform data” appears on their smartphone. Dr. Michael Barsoom, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Alegent Health, learned of AirStrip OB at a conference. He later brought the application to Alegent, making it the first area healthcare provider offering the technology. Aside from the convenience of portability, Barsoom says having instant access to a patient’s vital signs could help determine appropriate treatment. Without immediate, physical access to patient data, Barsoom says doctors would have to rely on diagnoses of other physicians. “I’m not relying on someone else’s interpretations,” Barsoom says of the application’s benefits. The app is one of an estimated 1700 smartphone applications designed for healthcare professionals, according to the health news publication MobiHealthNews. The swift upswing of patient care apps has caught the attention of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA and Federal Communications Commission held meetings recently to examine whether such devices need regulation. Greater use of remote diagnoses via technology could possibly lead to less doctor/patient interaction. However, Barsoom believes the benefits of patient information at his fingertips outweigh any possible problems from the AirStrip OB.

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