iTriage is a slick iPhone app that we first took a look at back in April. A couple of weeks back we had a chance to meet with the CEO, Dr. Peter Hudson (yes, he’s an ER doc who still practices medicine) who was in Boston to attend a conference. During that meeting, Peter gave us a brief update on progress to date, including their recent announcement with HCA to become a premier listing service for South Florida. Following is what we learned.
Since its launch in April 2009, iTriage has maintained an enviable position as one of the top downloaded apps in the iPhone AppStore, currently in the top 10% of all apps downloaded. When one thinks about all the 35,000+ apps currently available and some 1 billion apps downloaded to date, that is pretty impressive for a small company. Clearly, they must be doing something right. That being said though, if they are such a popular app, why don’t they at least show up on the AppStore Health & Wellness or Medical sections in the list of top paid apps? Curious.
The parent company’s (Healthagen) business model is to solicit providers, mostly large integrated delivery networks (IDNs) to become premier sponsors who pay an annual subscription fee (based on number of hospitals & clinics) to Healthagen to have their facility listed along with some brief marketing content, including the ability to upload videos, as to why one would want to go to their facility (typically ER) versus others. Thus, Healthagen is tapping into the marketing budgets of IDNs. With home offices in Colorado, Healthagen has done a good job of landing the big IDNs in Colorado including Centura Health.
On October 5th, HCA announced that they would become a premier sponsor as well for their facilities in South Florida. What is particularly cool about this announcement is that in addition to the standard promotional marketing content that one may find in iTriage on a given HCA facility, HCA will also be providing real-time information on expected wait-times in ER, right there in the palm of your hand on your iPhone and in a recent upgrade of the software, a Blackberry as well. (In November, they’ll release versions for Android and PalmPre.) This is all part of a larger push by HCA, which includes posting wait-times on billboards in this region to drive consumers seeking medical attention to their facilities as a significant percentage of those admitted to ER wind up being admitted for more extensive care.
Granted, someone having a heart attack will dial 911 and go to the nearest facility, or as in my recent case, choose a hospital known for excellent care based on a recommendation (the EMT that treated triaged me suggested I go to Brigham & Women’s as they have the physicians to treat nasty cuts, in my case a plastic surgeon stitched me up). But there may be other cases where someone who is feeling ill and cannot get an appointment with their primary care physician or are on travel, may find this feature useful.
Now, if I can only get something like a change:healthcare feature embedded into iTriage for costing information, a medication checker like PharmaSURVEYOR or DoubleCheckMD (who knows, maybe that new med I was prescribed is causing all the grief) to evaluate current meds I am on and while we are at it, a more user friendly mobile interface (yes, they do have an avatar on the Web) then we really would have one powerful app to support consumer-driven healthcare.