Avaya Demonstrates Health Care Messaging App for iPhone, iPad

At the HIMSS12 health care IT conference, Avaya introduced its Mobile Clinical Assistant messaging application, along with new unified communications and telehealth offerings.

Avaya, a developer of networking and unified communications tools, unveiled a future health care iOS messaging tool along with other new products at the HIMSS12 health care IT conference in Las Vegas.

The company showed its Mobile Activity Assistant, an app that provides secure communication for nurses and hospital staff through text messaging. It will be available initially on iPhones and iPads, but Avaya plans to launch it on other mobile platforms in about six to nine months, Sanjeev Gupta, general manager of Avaya Healthcare Solutions, told eWEEK.

The application allows nurses to send call alerts and receive critical notifications on patient conditions.

Avaya designed the product after it received feedback from nurses on how they had to run back and forth to their station to respond to call alerts rather than remaining with patients, Gupta explained.

"Nurses did not have enough time to spend on direct patient care because they [were] spending a lot of time on other things like documentation and walking around," said Gupta. "They want to be able to get all communications while they're on the move, so they can spend more time with the patients rather than rushing back to the nursing station."

With an app like Mobile Activity Assistant, nurses can receive these alerts on their iPhone or iPad. Using the messaging capabilities of the app allows nurses to balance multiple tasks, such as admitting patients, collecting documentation from different departments and keeping up with phone calls while still seeing patients, said Gupta.

With the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon taking off in health care, doctors and nurses can communicate using Mobile Activity Assistant on a personal or hospital-provided device on the hospital's WiFi network, Gupta noted.

All messages on the Mobile Activity Assistant are sent using secure "closed-loop" communications that conform to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines, Avaya reported. Various health professionals involved in a patient's care€”including doctors, nurses and therapists€”can collaborate using text messaging on an iPhone or iPad through Mobile Activity Assistant.

Mobile-Device Management Platform

A company called MobileIron offers a mobile-device management platform that allows hospitals to preconfigure the Mobile Activity Assistant for a health care environment. The platform allows hospitals to create a specific marketplace to download the app rather than going through iTunes. In addition to preconfiguring the device, hospital IT departments can wipe the iPhone or iPad if it's lost or stolen, said Gupta.

Parkview Health, based in northwest Indiana, has conducted a trial implementation of the Mobile Activity Assistant on 60 iPhones to allow nurses to keep up with critical alerts on one device and collaborate with other health care professionals. The hospital system will expand to 670 iPhones by March, Avaya reported.

At the HIMSS conference, Avaya also showed the Flare Communicator for the iPad, an app that allows health care professionals to send instant messages and emails, as well as make calls over WiFi or 3G. The app allows doctors and nurses to show their availability, and enables doctors to share X-rays and lab results. Flare Communicator also can be a communications hub for various specialists, such as cardiologists and neurologists.

Avaya also demonstrated how its Social Media Manager allows health care professionals to seek out new patients using social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Doctors can also use the tool if they're conducting research and need to seek out patients on a specific topic, such as those who have undergone colonoscopies or are in smoking-cessation groups, said Gupta.