When choosing an app, you generally tend to look for a program that serves some kind of purpose in your everyday life – to assist you, guide you, enlighten or even just purely entertain you. “Killer apps” are those applications that not only satisfy a need or desire, but solve an essential problem so well that you cannot, or would not choose to live without it. For a practicing physician, a killer app might be a program that increases productivity and efficiency, saves money, has potential to increase revenue or enhances the quality of patient care. It should improve or enhance the way that physicians regularly conduct your business or interact with patients and staff, have an amazing return on investment and ideally never lose its novelty.
Here are my top 10 “Killer Apps” for physicians:
How to Design a Killer App
Siva Raj, Director of New Product Insights, Bausch + Lomb has this advice for developers of medical apps:
1. Make life easy. Physicians have limited time and resources. Anything they use must fill a critical need.
2. Do no harm. There shoudln't be any obvious harm caused by using a mobile app.
3. Solve a real problem. This is a group of rather conservative people. Don't waste thier time.
Register to get more detail on great app development from Siva Raj:
|1. YouMail - As we are constantly on the go, doctors tend to accumulate a remarkable number of voicemails, with little time to sift through them all. YouMail is a complete and total upgrade from the way we currently use this regular cellular function. For a minimal monthly fee, the program lists all of your voicemails chronologically, displays the name/phone number of each caller and can even transcribe their messages for you with incredible accuracy (the only word that it consistently fails to understand is Kirschenbaum.) This information is all saved into a cloud database for quick and easy retrieval at any point in time.|
|2. DriveSafe.ly – On a similar thread as YouMail, this killer app also helps physicians streamline the way they communicate while in transit. DriveSafe.ly automatically reads your incoming text messages out loud with impressive accuracy, so you can stay focused on driving your vehicle. Physicians receive almost as many texts as they do voicemails, but this is a killer app that can benefit anyone and everyone.|
|3. GoToMeeting – This program is the cheapest, most powerful way for a surgeon to conduct any kind of video conference. For just $49/month, you can not only video or voice chat with any given number of people, but also share screens with the rest of the participants. This is an incredibly valuable way for doctors to connect with their patients to show them labs and reports, or conference with colleagues from any location. It can even be used in the emergency room for outside consultation.|
|4. DropBox – Due to the high quality and resolution of medical images (i.e. x-rays), photo files are often too large to share via email or other traditional digital communication platforms. DropBox eliminates this issue, allowing doctors to instantly and securely share any size document with colleagues and/or patients.|
|5. Mozyhome – Mozyhome is one of several services that offer cloud-backup and file sync for your computer, but I personally like it best since it is 100% automatic and only $5.99/month. Mozyhome ensures that all of your most important files are kept in a safe, online cloud database that you can access anywhere. Killer apps like Mozyhome have the same function as an external hard drive, but with unlimited storage space without the possibility of being lost, destroyed or stolen.|
|6. SpoofApp – SpoofApp is a caller-ID spoofing, voice changing, and call recording application. That said, it can actually be incredibly useful for more than just prank calls as its name suggests. The program allows you to change the phone number that appears on the recipient’s caller ID. This is important for physicians who prefer their patients not have access to personal cell numbers. Additionally, the call recording function can be useful if you need to get consent from a family member on behalf of a patient.|
|7. Snagit – Snagit is the “ultimate screen capture program,” allowing you to take still shots or even videos of your computer screen at any point in time. It’s a fantastic tool to create video tutorials, which can then easily be shared or used in academic powerpoints/presentations. It is also useful if you want to capture a small portion of a larger image without having to edit the original file (i.e. sending a section of an x-ray to a patient).|
|8. PerfectServe – PerfectServe has redefined the way doctors can communicate with and be notified by their patients. It has a variety of different services to offer both hospitals and private practices. I use it most frequently and consistently for its totally automated digital call answering service. Not only is it totally secure, it eliminates any possibility of human error.|
|9. WorldCard – WorldCard is your basic business card reader/scanner application, but I’d recommend it due to its consistent track record of flawless integration into your contact book. This is a crucial app for every physician to have, as it saves time and increases productivity.|
|10. iFavorite Pro – This app allows you to create a shortcut icon for the majority of the key functions on your phone. For example, you can put an icon on your home screen that, when pushed, will immediately call your hospital, practice, office manager, etc. You can also craft an icon to send a text message or an email to any one assigned contact, or even take you directly to a designated webpage. For only $1.99, this app saves an invaluable amount of time and effort that physicians expend on a daily basis.|
The question you might be asking is, why is my app not on this list. That answer is simple. The apps created by the medical device industry haven’t yet reached the wide enough appeal to be a “killer” app. In addition, medical device firms that are developing apps for use by doctors aren’t yet taking a view to aid with data collections seamlessly and across platforms, for example. A universal approach to data could help improve physician adoption, and improve brand recognition. Overall, however, the app you design must fit the criteria identified in the first paragraph. Killer apps fulfill a need or desire, and solve an essential problem so effectively as to be indispensable. If your app isn't aiming to meet those needs, perhaps its time to rethink your platform.
Ira Kirschenbaum is chairman for the department of orthopaedic surgery, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. He runs an innovative program overseeing a large staff of orthopaedic surgeons who deliver orthopaedic care to one of the largest clinic populations in the country. Kirschenbaum was the founding executive director of Medscape Orthopaedics and Community Health Editor in Orthopaedics for WebMD. He is nationally known as an expert in minimally invasive hip and knee replacement, as well as complex revision joint replacement surgery.