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HL20: Blau and Cohn—Understanding the Patient's Need for Understanding

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 13, 2011

Brad Cohn, MD

 "Understanding a patient’s needs is really critical in developing an app that helps people."—Brad Cohn, MD

"This was just something we needed and we were surprised that it didn't exist," says Blau, 35, an emergency physician who has since left medicine to develop MediBabble. He is also medical director at Doximity Inc., in San Mateo, CA. "We both had iPhones and we thought ‘why isn't there an app that helps us? We can now walk around with computers in our pockets and impressive interface ability. Why don't we have a quick language app that allows us to play some questions for our patients?' Then we realized that we were perfectly situated to do it ourselves."

MediBabble—which is free and does not require Internet access once it is downloaded—focuses on the history-taking process during the initial patient interview.

"We specifically rewrote all of basic medical history taking," Blau says. "It turns out that most of the information we look to get as physicians is fairly predictable, depending upon a patient's complaint. We were able to organize history taking in a standard fashion, the way most physicians will approach it, based on patients' chief complaints and wrote out all of the questions that a physician would want to know the answer to."

Blau and Cohn and their small technical support staff at the company they formed—NiteFloat Inc. —had the questions translated by native speakers into six languages: Russian, Spanish, French, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Haitian Creole—the last of which was rushed into production to help clinicians in the earthquake relief effort on Haiti.

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