Orca Health's new apps help MDs educate patients

By Neil Versel
04:41 am

Orca HealthCount Orca Health as the latest mobile health company to pivot from a direct-to-consumer strategy toward serving healthcare professionals.

Orca isn't completely abandoning DTC, but the Sandy, Utah-based maker of mobile medical reference tools this week introduced Patient Education for Healthcare Professionals, a series of interactive iPhone and iPad apps that allows clinicians to prescribe educational material to their patients.

"The original design was for consumers," said founder and CEO Matt Berry. But the majority of feedback the company received was from physicians and other healthcare professionals, he told MobiHealthNews.

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At least 70 percent of the 200,000 registered Orca Health users described themselves as professionals, according to Berry. "They were using [the apps] in-clinic to educate patients" on conditions and procedures, he said.

Orca Health also reported this week that it has topped 2 million downloads of all its apps since its first product, SpineDecide, hit the App Store in September 2010. Of that total, more than 1.3 million have come since the beginning of 2013, Berry said.

With the professional version, practitioners now can select specific educational articles, graphics and 3D images and package the links in an email to each patient. Clinicians also can annotate patient-specific medical images on their mobile devices and include those in the educational package.

Patients then sign into a secure portal, either via the Web or an Apple iOS device, to retrieve the information.

Orca Health said that beta testers of the professional app suite have increased patient retention by 15 percent, possibly because patients who understand their diagnoses and recommended treatments are less likely to seek second opinions. Berry said the company is in the process of quantifying revenue gains from the Patient Education for Healthcare Professionals.

The new, professional version has been optimized for the recently released Apple iOS 7. At the moment, Orca's first product, Spine Decide, is the only medical app listed on the iTunes "Designed for iOS 7" page.

One part that is still missing is platform integration with electronic health records. "That is the No. 1 requested feature that we get asked about," Berry said. The CEO said Orca is working on that with unspecified EHR vendors and technology partners, but did not give a timetable.


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