In doctor-patient communications, paper is out, and apps are in

Missy KrasnerMissy Krasner

To Missy Krasner, today's healthcare landscape is still mired in paper. Doctors think they can't communicate properly with their patients unless they get everything down on paper and send it home. And patients don't take their diagnoses and instructions seriously unless they're printed out on handouts.

Krasner, the new managing director of healthcare and life sciences for Box, a Los Altos, Calif.-based developer of digital communications tools, wants to push doctors and patients into the digital age. At this week's Health 2.0 conference, she helped launch an app developer challenge with Dignity Health, one of the nation's five largest healthcare networks, and the Social+Capital Partnership.

The Dignity Health and Box Patient Education App Challenge, which runs through Jan. 10, 2014, calls on developers to design an app that best addresses the problems associated with patient education. Officials say the goal is to create a simple and effective means of eliminating the paper handout and replacing it with the link to the patient's health record.

"People just want to get their documents," said Krasner, a 20-year healthcare veteran who helped launch the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT during the Bush Administration and was a founding member of Google Health. "This is a big pain point for lots of hospitals. Box is all about being able to store content in the cloud and collaborating on it and being able to share it."

Krasner said the patient education space is often ignored, and that no one has figured out how to develop a good delivery system. With the advent of mHealth and the realization that both consumers and doctors are using smartphones and tablets, she said, the innovators are taking notice.

"We really want to seed that innovation and focus on the patient education space," she said.

The challenge winner will receive a $100,000 convertible note and one month of office space and mentorship from The Social+Capital Partnership, and the winning app will be featured in the Box Apps Marketplace and proposed for a pilot project in the Dignity Health network. Finalists will be announced on Feb. 6, 2014, with a winner announced on March 27.

“We recognize the immense potential that technology has to enhance our patients’ care and overall experience,” said Lloyd Dean, president and CEO of Dignity Health, a San Francisco-based network of some 11,000 physicians and more than 300 care delivery locations in 21 states, in a press release. “Dignity Health is thrilled to partner with an innovative company such as Box and challenge developers to create applications that may someday have a profound effect on how we manage our health.”

The panel of judges who will decide the finalists and choose the winner is composed of Aneesh Chopra, former U.S. chief technology officer; Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie; Ted Maidenberg, a general partner with Social+Capital; and Rich Roth, vice president of strategic innovation for Dignity Health.

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