Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ePocrates: Having a doctor in the palm of your hand

ok, I'm not a doctor and I've never played one...on TV anyway. So I'm not really the target for ePocrates, a company that is developing electronic tools targetting real healthcare professionals (also known as doctors + nurses). But I have been playing with one of their mobile applications, ePocrates Essentials, for the last week and it matters...and not just to real healthcare professionals.

What does it do?

The (currently) free version I have on my Windows Mobile device (yes, there is a version for the iPhone, Palm and Blackberry devices) is an amazing collection of useful information in a usable form factor.

As a consumer (or healthcare professional), I can:
  1. Look up any drug and see if it's covered under healthcare plans targetted to my geography, including generic programs like Target and others...see manufacturer's pricing...and alternatives.
  2. Create and manage custom formulary information sets.
  3. Discern indications, dosing, adverse reactions and all-important interaction warnings for thousands of drugs.
  4. Calculate conversions and values for a multitude of measures and data associated with treatment and monitoring (e.g., Body-Mass Index to Osmotic Gaps to Transtubular K gradients)
  5. View and complete Continuing Education Medical units
All of these features and other, subscription-based modules--like symptom assessment, disease reference, lab diagnostic and infectious disease treatment--are available in automatically updated form on my mobile device: anytime, anywhere.

So What?

As one presenter discussed at the healthcare strategists' forum (here), the quality of healthcare service delivery is the marketing. And that's why ePocrates matters to marketers. Healthcare is, afterall, a knowledge industry.

As in other knowledge industries, control has been shifting to consumers because of the availability of knowledge beyond once-restricted walls of various professional priesthoods. As the information becomes widely available, the expectations and definitions of exceptional service delivery are being redefined on the consumer's terms...ePocrates further deploys knowledge to everyone with a stake in effective, efficient healthcare delivery.

Consistent with one of our marketing themes for 2009--Time as a Risk to Manage (here)--ePocrates anytime, anywhere approach goes one step beyond existing web-based services. It allows patients and their advocates to ask more specific, directed questions of providers--on their schedule. And it provides a source of reference to providers that reflects the always-on world of the healthcare professional...including the time outside the healthcare facility's walls.

ePocrates would appear to appeal to both the healthcare professional AND their marketers--in both human and animal health domains--may be seeing the immediate future of service delivery improvements from the customer's view--its all right there in the palm of their hand.

1 comment:

  1. Some doctors realize the importance of shared knowledge more than others. Currently a select few are really encouraging their patients to know more about their treatment or therapy options BEFORE they come in for an appointment. ( healthbeat_patient_choice)Coined “informed consent 2.0”, some doctors are taking patient education to the next level by providing patients with a more through list and explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of treatment options including real patients explaining why they chose differently.

    Currently it sounds like this information is being made available only though video and hard copy. Hopefully these progressive health leaders will make the information available online so it can not only be a resource for all but allows patients to further contribute to the dialogue.