UPMC Creates E-Health App for BlackBerry Smartphones

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center says it has created an app doctors can use to receive important patient data via their BlackBerry smartphones. In addition, the health care organization has completed a proof-of-concept of a technology platform that helps doctors and patients share information.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is teaming up with technology partner dbMotion to create ways of making electronic medical records more readily available to both physicians and patients.

UPMC officials on March 2 announced that the partnership had created an application enabling physicians to receive critical patient information on their BlackBerry smartphones.

Using the application developed with dbMotion, doctors can now look up patients' allergies, medications and lab results on their BlackBerry devices, whether they're at the hospital or on the road, according to William Fera, vice president of medical technologies and medical director of interoperability at UPMC.

"We are looking for more effective ways to make patient information available at the point of care-and, increasingly, the point of care isn't just in a hospital or doctor's office," Fera said in a statement. "We need to get the right information to the right clinicians at the right time, whether they are at home on call or in a variety of mobile health care situations."

The BlackBerry application runs on the dbMotion Solution interoperability platform. The platform gives doctors a single view of the pertinent information and gives health care providers a way to transfer and organize the data usefully.

On March 1, UMPC officials announced the development of electronic PHR (personal health record) technology that eventually may give patients the ability to add critical health information to the EHRs (electronic health records) kept by hospitals and physicians.

UMPC recently wrapped up a proof-of-concept project run in collaboration with Google Health, Carnegie Mellon University and dbMotion.

The idea of PHRs has been around for three decades, according to UPMC officials, but the push to make them electronic has been growing with the demand for EHRs. The Obama administration has been pushing for greater adoption of EHRs and has earmarked $17 billion in federal economic stimulus money for EMR projects, starting in 2011.

The key hurdle for electronic PHRs has been the difficulty of aggregating data from a range of unconnected technologies and then presenting that information in a way that's useful to both patients and doctors.

UPMC is using dbMotion's SOA (service-oriented architecture)-based interoperability platform to help share and organize the data, regardless of the technologies involved.

"The interoperability platform allows us to connect disparate EHRs and automatically gather information from various patient-facing applications throughout the UPMC system, including ambulatory and acute care settings," Fera said.

The medical information not only will be aggregated, but will be shared bidirectionally between doctors and patients through the PHR.

"This is the first step in creating an interoperable, actionable PHR," Fera said.