We recently posted about the new BodyMaps App for the iPad, which was released just last week (those without the tablet can still check out the software online here). BodyMaps emerged from a collaboration between GE and Healthline Networks, a 13-year-old company whose “technology and services reach 100 million monthly users through its destination site and network of partner sites.” We were interested in how and why they developed the BodyMaps service, so we took advantage of the opportunity to interview Healthline Networks’ CEO, West Shell III, about their new app:
Shiv Gaglani, Medgadget: What motivated Healthline to create Body Maps in the first place? What is special about the move to the iPad?
West Shell III: BodyMaps was originally conceived as a consumer education tool for the web, and brought to the iPad for on the go use to an expanded audience of healthcare workers and educators. We’ve focused on visual learning tools because 65% of the general population are visual learners.
The app was developed with our partners GE and Visible Productions. We believe the rapid adoption of tablets in healthcare (see stats below) has the potential to facilitate patient education and the interaction of healthcare providers (not just doctors) and patients. In the last 7 months of 2011 BodyMaps on Healthline.com saw over 13 M page views. And Yahoo features BodyMaps web content in its main search results.
- 41% of physicians assistants use mobile devices to medical information (Source: Bulletin Healthcare survey Feb 2011)
- 26% of physicians surveyed are already using tablets to help educate patients (Source: QuantiaMD, “Tablets Set to Change Medical Practice”, June 2011)
- 62% of physicians use ipads for professional use. (Manhattan Research, May 2012)
- “Physicians are evolving in ways we expected – only faster,” said Monique Levy, vice president of research at Manhattan Research. “The skyrocketing adoption rates of tablets alone, especially iPads, means healthcare stakeholders should revisit many of their assumptions about reaching and engaging with this audience.”
Medgadget: According to the FAQs the target audience for Body Maps are “consumers, students, doctors, and health educators.” Do you have any statistics or anecdotes about these groups and how they’ve engaged with Body Maps thus far?
Shell: We have received very positive feedback from nurses regarding use for patient education, and from students in chiropractic and medical school as a study aid. Consumers like it to bring to the doctor’s office and also for people in a caregiver role. First year med students quotes:
- “Really neat. Love that it is 3D and rotates, and that I can easily dive into different body systems.”
- “I think the app is relatively simple to use, within 5-10 minutes I learned how to navigate around the body, how to use the pins, how to get back to the start, etc.”
- “It’s awesome – there is so much detail and the high resolution pictures are amazing. I love how you can peel through layers, zoom in on specific organs, and learn about each one.”
- ”I really love this app! It is so easy to use and provides great visualization of the structures for anatomy!”
From Gloria Horns, nurse educator formerly with UCSF: “For patients, the [visual] resources were very scarce all through the medical world,” says Gloria Horns, a nurse educator and well-known patient advocate at University of California, San Francisco. “You were creating your own, reinventing the wheel every time, and working with diagrams, charts, and flat images.” Horns has cared for many organ transplant patients during her long career. She says that the new app “is really going to be a terrific tool for the nurses that are teaching these patients through the whole course of the illness.” Says Horns: “They are really going to get it. It’s hard to describe how this will help us. It’s pretty phenomenal.”
Medgadget: The videos I’ve seen look excellent! Are there plans on adding more videos or other features to Body Maps moving forward?
Shell: Absolutely. We are continuing to solicit user feedback and are planning the next release now.
Medgadget: As a medical student, education aficionado, and technical blogger, I’m interested in the planned level of detail of Body Maps. What are your goals with respect to (student) medical education?
Shell: We are conducting studies and soliciting feedback from students, physicians and healthcare educators for additional information on their needs, and how they use the app. So far students have told us that the version one product is a great adjunct to more expensive digital textbook material, with higher quality visuals and videos. We are also considering how we might revise the core app or build secondary apps to support different specialist needs.
Medgadget: As the CEO of Healthline, what else are you excited about that is coming out of your company? For example, I’ve heard Healthline Networks has a robust semantic analysis platform: are you investing in additional Natural Language Processing/Machine Learning research to more accurately or efficiently “identify, organize, and present” health information?
Shell: The semantic analysis platform is already a key element of the search capabilities of BodyMaps as well as on our consumer health information site, www.healthline.com. This is what enables us to “identify, organize and present health info.”
The current semantic platform uses Natural Language Processing. Look to see enhancements to that as we evolve. We can’t pre-announce new products but I can say we are focused on delivering patient education and decision support tools that help consumers take healthy actions and improve health outcomes. Look for more announcements from us in this regard in the next month or two.
Medgadget: Who are Healthline’s and Body Maps’ main competitors and what gives you all the advantage?
Shell: BodyMaps is much more than pretty pictures. We’ve mapped the entire human body to our taxonomy to make it easily searchable – no other apps have that. We’ll be adding more images and videos going forward and integrating it to our other assets such as symptom and condition content.
Product page: BodyMaps for iPad…