There's an app for your OB to track your pregnancy. Wait, what? Seriously?
Full disclosure: I’ve never jumped on the whole iPhone bandwagon. I love my iPod, but I’m not iCrazy about everything “i” -- and so I’ve been using my same old Samsung for years. So maybe I don’t exactly get the excitement about all the apps -- they just seem like one more big time suck. But I especially don’t get this one.
Or rather, I didn’t.
When I first heard about the Airstrip OB app, the impression I got was that the doctor is using the application to track pregnancy progress -- in place of regular visits and care.
Not so. The OB app is only used by hospital labor & delivery units. So you won’t even see anything about it until you are actually on the unit -- whether you’ve just come in while in labor or whether you are a high-risk pregnancy and your doctor wants you close by for monitoring.
It’s actually pretty cool -- the application allows your doctor to tap into the hospital network (where are your records are kept anyway) and get real-time information on not just your health, but that of your baby. And, it’s completely HIPAA compliant -- a question that popped into my head as soon as I heard “wireless network.” The doctor must log in to the hospital with a secure password, and none of the information is actually stored on the phones -- it stays within the hospital’s network.
All your records -- current and past -- are available for her to scroll through and waveform data showing things like fetal heartbeat, your contraction patterns, and other vitals are delivered to her phone at the same time. She’ll also be able to see all the nurses’ notes and order results. So your OB can be tracking your information even from another unit or hospital.
At this point, the cynic in me came lurching back out -- because, in my experience, the nurses do almost all the care. When you need something, it’s usually the nurse who identifies it and notifies the doctor, who then makes it “official”. And as far as doctors viewing your data, well, CynicalMe says “I don’t know a single doctor who takes the time to just periodically check on his patient’s condition -- they wait for the nurse to call.”
But … even if that were the case, PollyannaMe says, “Well, now he can look up the record when the nurse calls and make an accurate determination, rather than relying on an interpretation.” And that makes a lot of sense. It also makes sense that doctors can’t always be on the unit with you, and so having access to records and real-time data could be very important, especially in a critical care situation, such as having to determine whether an emergency c-section is necessary.
So, I’m convinced ... sort of. As long as this application is truly used how it’s meant to be used, and not as a way for doctors to be away or unreachable. I still want to know that someone is there to ask questions of during the day, and not just during occasional rounds. I'd want to know that someone is there to confirm that yes, I can get out of bed and go for a lap around the unit, and yes, I can have that extra snack before dinner, or get a bath, or any of the other personal touches we rely on when in the very unpersonal world of the hospital.
But what do you think -- would you want your doctor to have this app? Does this put us on a slippery slope towards hands-free medicine? Or is it just another tool in the arsenal?
Image via AirstripTech.com