We all know about patient safety checklists because of Atul Gwande‘s book, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.Until recently, healthcare checklists were aimed at doctors or the care team. But now, a startup, named Doctella, has released an app that features checklists for patients preparing for surgery or some type of medical procedure.
The app was developed by Peter Pronovost MD, PhD, one of the nation’s leading experts on patient safety, and a Johns Hopkins colleague, Adil Haider, MD, a trauma surgeon and public health scientist. Adil’s brother, Amer, serves as the CEO of the app’s parent, PDT, a company privately funded by investors in Silicon Valley.
Doctella’s Checklists for Patients
I downloaded the Doctella app from Google Play to see how it works. After some introductory pages, I was invited to choose the surgery or medical procedure that I was preparing for. I chose “lumbar spinal fusion” because I wanted to see how the app deals with a surgery that is on a lot of “overused procedures” lists.
I was presented with this list of questions I could ask my doc pre-surgery:
- How will this surgery benefit me?
- What is the goal of this surgery?
- What are the risks of this surgery?
- How will this surgery impact my movement or flexibility
- Do I have other options besides this surgery?
- Where and how big will my incision be?
- Do you think I will need a blood transfusion during my surgery?
You can pick as many questions as you want — limited, I guess, only by your estimation of how willing your surgeon is to spend the time to answer them.
Tapping on a question takes you to another screen where you can add reminder notes, add a picture, location or calendar event. The Doctella website hinted that I could also record the conversation with my doctor, but the app didn’t appear to offer that option — although I hope they do in the future.
The other questions are categorized under:
- My surgery
- Recovery after my surgery
- Choice of anesthesia
- My current medications
- Lab Tests
- Preparing for surgery
There is the option of adding questions of your own and the “My Patient Passport” feature lets you provide personal information, including your favorite picture of yourself and a sentence or two on how you view faith in your life.
The apps’ screens are well designed and the question lists seem comprehensive. I experienced some minor glitches in the sign-in process that led me to starting over with a different email — although this could be user error, I admit, there are now so many sites and apps that make the sign in super simple and glitch-free that I hope Doctella takes a look at streamlining theirs.
Overall, the concept and execution of Doctella’s patient safety checklist app is brilliant and a great addition growing list of patient centered healthcare apps.
Although it is available for free on both Apple iTunes and Google Play, the company hopes to make money licensing white labeled versions to hospitals that want to provide the app to their patients as well as get analytics from the app, sync the information with their EHRs, and monitor certain parameters related to admissions and readmission. Amer says the company hopes to realize its first revenue this quarter (4Q2014).