A HIPAA-Compliant App for a New Home Healthcare Practitioner

Ellie recently graduated as a nurse practitioner (NP) and has started a new position with a home health service company. Her job is to provide medical care to patients at their home. She thoroughly enjoys the work and loves the opportunity to help people feel better and improve their quality of life. As a recent graduate, however, Ellie is sometimes a little unsure of herself when it comes to making a diagnosis or determining the best treatment for a patient’s condition. Fortunately for Ellie, she has a network of medical professionals at her company who are happy to offer an opinion when she has a question. In addition, she has an app on her phone that allows her to contact people in her network securely and without violating HIPAA regulations. Without the app, she would not be able to reach out to fellow clinicians without risking patient privacy violations. When contacting her peers, she often needs to show them a condition her patient is manifesting or the patient environment. The app lets her video-conference so she can let her peers see exactly what she would like a second opinion on.

A Visit with a Burn Patient

Today, Ellie is scheduled to visit Amelia, an elderly woman who severely burned her foot with a pot of scalding water. She went to the ER a week ago and was sent home with a dressing on her injured foot and instructions for burn care. Ellie is doing a follow-up visit to make sure the foot is healing as it should. Amelia’s daughter opens the door and tells Ellie her mother can’t get out of bed because she’s experiencing so much discomfort. The dressing on her mother’s burns has been changed daily and they’ve used the prescribed medication, she says, but the skin is not healing properly. In fact, an open, painful wound has appeared.

Ellie finds Amelia lying in bed with her left foot propped up on a pillow and a grimace on her face. She is clearly not well. Ellie inquires how she’s feeling and sees her eyes tear up. Her foot isn’t getting better, she reports, and the pain is wearing her down. Ellie unwraps the dressing and is taken aback by what she sees. The entire foot and ankle are affected but on the top of the foot is a fairly large wound. The skin has burst open and the exposed tissue appears festering and infected. Amelia says the skin began rupturing the day after the accident with the scalding water.

Ellie’s immediate impulse is to send Amelia back to the hospital. On further reflection, however, she decides to contact her supervisor, Dr. Barnes who has experience in geriatric wound care and could probably advise her on how to proceed. She quickly sends him a text and is relieved when he responds within seconds and agrees to a video conference that will allow him to view Amelia’s foot. Ellie uses her HIPAA-compliant app to instantly set up the video call. The app also features an augmented reality ruler that enables her to accurately measure the size of the wound so Dr. Barnes sees exactly how large the affected area actually is. His experience proves invaluable and with his input, Ellie is able to devise a care plan that doesn’t require another trip to the hospital both reducing care costs and making Amelia very happy.

When Ellie returns a week later, Amelia’s foot is healing properly and she is able to get out of bed. She thanks Ellie for keeping her out of the hospital. Ellie silently thanks Dr. Barnes and the HIPAA-compliant app that has again proven to be one of the best tools in her “doctor bag.”

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