Hospital unveils new smart phone app

Family Medical Officer designed to help manage entire family's health

A new smart phone application, built from the ground up by El Camino Hospital, aims to help locals make informed medical decisions for themselves and their families, according to an official with the healthcare organization.

The free app, Family Medical Officer, allows users to access personal and family health records, find doctor by location, specialty or last name and check up-to-the-minute emergency room wait times at both El Camino campuses. It also has a reference guide with an extensive list of conditions and their symptoms, as well as drugs and their side effects.

The idea behind the Family Medical Officer app, which the hospital announced on Dec. 7, is to connect a family's primary medical decision-maker with a tool that would help "cope with the maze of healthcare decisions" regularly facing him or her, said Greg Walton, chief information officer at El Camino.

Walton, who oversees all of the hospital's information technology projects, said that while there are companies that build healthcare-oriented smart phone apps for hospitals by filling in an extant app skeleton, El Camino wanted to start from scratch with the FMO app, and make it specifically for the El Camino Hospital community.

"We took out a clean sheet of paper and asked, 'What mobile technology do we want for the long run?'" Walton said.

Though he wouldn't give any details, he said the hospital has plans to build upon the app in ways it hopes users will appreciate and find useful. "We didn't want to just buy something that everybody else already had."

The application runs on both the iOS and Android smart phone operating systems. Though the app can be run on the iPad and other tablet computers, it is not yet optimized for such devices so it will appear grainy.

"This is an early step in mobile devices for healthcare," Walton said, noting that the hospital recognizes that people are increasingly expectant that all of the places they go in the brick and mortar world should have a mobile web counterpart. El Camino officials expect mobile healthcare technology to continue growing at a rapid clip.

"We know people are more and more dependent on their smart phones to run their lives. It's part of our obligation to meet people where they are," he said.

Instructions for downloading the free application can be found here.

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