PI launches Omnio for smartphones, reworking Skyscape

By Jonah Comstock
02:30 am
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CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Skyscape was being shut down, it is in fact being reworked and re-launched.

Merck GHI-owned digital health marketing firm Physicians Interactive has launched free iPhone and Android versions of its medical content reader and physician toolkit iPad app Omnio, and will be sunsetting legacy app Skyscape Medical Resources once those apps are established.

The Skyscape app, which was bought by Physicians Interactive in 2009, has been around -- running on BlackBerrys and Palm Pilots, among other things -- since 1998. It will be relaunched as Skyscape Medical Library, a new app focused on medical education.

"We wanted to make sure that, when we did evolve Skyscape, we were giving [users] something that was in great need or demand and request from our user base," Chief Medical Officer and senior VP of product management Gautam Gulati told MobiHealthNews. "So we used the iPad as a tool to address those concerns without putting at risk our existing Skyscape users. That was a strategic move from a business standpoint."

The iOS version of Omnio is available today, and the Android version will be available in the Google Play store by April 25th. The iPhone and Android phone versions of Omnio don't add any new features, but the features are organized differently based on the how physicians typically use different sized devices. 

"We just didn't take the iPad version and dump it onto the iPhone," Gulati said. "We're thinking about the use cases rather differently. The iPad or tablet versions tend to be more leisure-based activity, sitting back reading journals, articles, long term content, because those devices are best served in those kinds of use cases. ... But for the iPhone, we understand from our users and the feedback that we've gotten that it's a more utilitarian type of tool. The features and functionality that are specific to the reference section -- trying to access your drugs, diseases, calculators, those sorts of things, and getting to your resources as quickly as possible and out as quickly as possible -- is usually the use case application for the phone vs. the tablet."

For instance, the new app will make it easier to bookmark articles, swipe between multiple windows in the reference section, or hide a window -- features that were less important on a large tablet screen that could display multiple windows. Physicians will be able to have one account that spans across multiple devices. The apps will also come with a three-month trial version of The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals within the app.

The new release also adds social sharing capabilities. Gulati said these features are setting up for the next release of Omnio, which will focus on enabling clinicians to follow one another to see what colleagues are reading.

"We're ultimately going to be adding personalized sections in here, where I can make my pages public or private eventually in the future," Gulati said. "So it's bringing in social contracts and allowing individuals to follow each other's knowledge trail. So the major focus of this release right now is the extension and the redesign of the smaller real estate, as well as the extension of the phone version from a navigation perspective to set us up for the next major release, which will be about introducing the social dynamics, which takes us into a third section, or clinical productivity phase, of the application."

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