With a third of physicians recommending a mobile app to patients, it’s no surprise that providers are examining how these tools are integrated into the primary care workflow. But few providers have the resources necessary to offer comprehensive technology support to patients.
In early 2014, Ochsner Health System, an 11-hospital system headquarted in New Orleans, launched O Bar to encourage appropriate use of mobile health technology. The Care Transformation Center recently sat down with Richard Milani, MD, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at Ochsner Health System.
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Q: How would you describe a patient visit to O Bar?
Milani: Located in the primary care clinic, O Bar is designed to evoke the Genius Bar at an Apple Store. O Bar is staffed by the newest member of the primary care team, a non-clinical, but tech-savvy IT specialist who answers questions, helps download tools, and walks patients through quick tutorials on how to use them.
At O Bar we help patients download apps and gain familiarity with the tool before the patient goes home. Patients stop by before and after primary care visits to try out health care apps or speak to the staff.
Q: How was O Bar created?
Milani: There are currently over 100,000 apps for patients to choose from. We wanted to clear the noise for our patients and direct them to the best apps. We were building a new primary care clinic at the same time and incorporated O Bar in the clinic.
Q: Do you have any early results to share?
Milani: The results have been incredibly positive. In the first six months, patients downloaded over 3,000 apps. Patients proactively seek advice and physicians can write a "prescription" for O Bar. Overall, providers have reacted positively to O Bar.
With respect to apps, our trends are very similar to national trends. We found that weight loss and exercise are the most popular app downloads.
Q: What’s next for the O Bar?
Milani: Right now we’re working to solve a classic primary care problem: hypertensive patients who forget to bring their at-home screening data with them to the office. In response, the O Bar team is currently developing a hypertension program that uses wireless cuffs. Patients use the cuff at home and blood pressure readings are streamed directly to the medical record.