Deploying a Mobile App to Address a Valuable Need and Transition the Community to Using Technology

October 1, 2013

by Mark S. Gothberg

“I began actively helping my elderly parents a number of years ago. Every time I took them to a doctor’s appointment, we would be asked for the same information over and over again, especially about what medica­tions were being taken,” says Jim Rattray, until recently vice president of marketing and public affairs at Southcoast Health System in New Bedford, MA. “So I started putting together a list of all my parents’ medications on my smartphone for easy reference.”

From that everyday situation came the idea that Southcoast Health should develop a mobile app that focused on medication reconcilia­tion. “We determined that it would be the killer feature that would get people to use the app and keep it on their phones. It was understood that it was not something that people will be using multiple times a day like so many other apps,” notes Rattray. The development of this app, called MyHealth, was the subject of a presentation at the Eighteenth National Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit held in May. Joining Rattray in the presentation was Justin Brodeur, CEO of Pidalia, also based in New Bedford.

While Rattray saw the immediate benefits of an app focused on medi­cations, he also saw other long-term benefits of introducing an app with a variety of features. New Bedford is just 60 miles south of Boston, but it’s a world apart from that profes­sionally oriented, tech-savvy city. A major whaling seaport in the 1800s, New Bedford is dominated today by fishing and textile industries and is very much a working-class commu­nity. Unhealthy habits abound, with 20 percent to 25 percent of the adult population still smoking. The My­Health app would complement the organization’s efforts to encourage healthier behaviors. It also “was something we wanted our commu­nity to use to become comfortable with technology,” says Rattray. “We are developing a patient portal, so people using the app can be fun­neled into using the new portal.”

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