App for Doctors to Track Patients

woman with cell laptop tablet

AirStrip OB, an application approved by the Food and Drug Administration and recently adopted by HealthONE hospitals, securely transmits critical patient data in real time from the hospital nurses and monitoring systems to doctors’ cell phones. Vital information – such as fetal heart-rate, Mom’s blood pressure, strength of contractions and amount of dilation – is at the physicians’ fingertips whether they’re in a meeting, at a hospital across town or with their family at home.

Ask the doctor's who use this breakthrough technology, and they might say the maker of AirStrip OB missed the mark when naming his invention. Rest Assured. Peace of Mind. OB Composed. That’s what the mobile phone application is all about. 

“With a patient in early labor, I’ve been able to look and see that she has arrived, and I can get a very quick impression of how good the baby’s heart rate pattern looks.”

Since babies don’t follow nine-to-five hours when making their debuts, patients are often laboring during physicians’ downtime. However, doctors aren’t the only ones who appreciate the technology. Labor and delivery nurses play a major role in monitoring moms and babies. With AirStrip OB, if they have a concern, they can call and have the doctor assess a situation almost instantly. “I have some nurses who are saying: I can’t wait until Dr. So-and-So gets AirStrip,” says Terri Bethel, a nurse with the Medical Center of Aurora, where an increasing number of doctors are signing up for the technology.

The application was invented by an obstetrician largely to speed communication between doctors and nurses for better patient outcomes. “Before, if we had a problem we would have to call the doctors, and they would have to come in, and it would take time, time we didn’t always have,” Bethel says.

Sometimes nurses are headed for the phone and find they don’t even need to call. “We had one case where a baby’s heart rate suddenly dropped, and the doctor was calling in at the same time we were calling out, saying: ‘Open the OR (operating room). I’m on my way.’ We had that baby out within seven minutes of the deceleration, and that baby is doing really well,” Bethel says, adding that in an emergency, there is always a doctor on call in the hospital. “But it’s nice to have their own physician in there.”

Bethel, who worked nights for a long time, says the technology is particularly great for her off-hour colleagues. “During the days, there are lots of doctors around, but at night, a lot of them are at home sleeping. I think it really helps out the night nurses, who can just call and say, ‘Look at your phone.’”

In an age in which doctors are highly challenged and increasingly mobile, AirStrip OB helps fill a gap, Bethel says. “They have more going on – we have a sicker patient population today (obesity, diabetes, heart disease). And doctors are stretched between different hospitals and offices.”

Patients also like the security of AirStrip OB, Bethel says. “I was in a room one time, and a physician called in to me and told me the patient’s Pitocin level needed to be increased,” Bethel says. “The patient said, ‘How did she know that?’ And a lot of our patients have the idea that their doctor is going to be there the entire time. They come in and say, ‘Where’s my doctor?’ By knowing that their obstetricians are seeing all of this information on their phones, I think they feel safer.”