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A New Patient Communication Tool

August 2014

By Tom Stibolt, MD, Mobile Musings Column Editor

I just saw my first ad for a new application designed to improve patients’ understanding of their medical conditions both in the office and when they are at home. The Liberate Healthapplication was developed by a company called Liberate Ideas, Inc. The website has a date of 2013, so it appears they have been providing their app and services for nearly a year.

The app currently is only available for iOS devices and does not appear to be well suited to the iPhone or iPod but instead requires an iPad. It is free for clinicians although it requires a registration. There are several different types of patient education information available. The main type are called teaching decks. The content appears to have been developed by Liberate Ideas and covers a wide arrange of conditions. It appears to be primarily aimed at primary care practitioners but it does include potentially useful components for Asthma, Cough, COPD, Bronchitis, Cancer, GERD, and other conditions pulmonologists might see. Unfortunately, several of these useful topics do not yet have any content but do show a note claiming they will be available “soon.”

At this time, Asthma and Cough are the only available decks. The two decks have very nice graphic presentations showing causes of the conditions. These can be annotated with line drawing and text notes. These are followed by a list of actions that the patient can take. The choices are, as noted, designed mostly for primary care, so they lack detail that might be needed for a specialist. This is followed by a weekly calendar, a notes section that again can be filled in using colored lines or text and, finally, a page of selected references. The calendar does not seem all that useful as individual cells cannot be selected or specifically filled in. The app allows the user to customize by removing and adding slides which is done by using the iPad camera. Liberate Health suggests that photographing diagnostic images or lab results for the patient might be useful. If you have another way to get these images into the iPad camera roll, they can be selected and added to a presentation.

While using the deck, the iPad microphone is turned on so that the conversation you have with the patient is recorded. The customized presentation and audio are then stored on the Liberate website as a secure file that the patient can later download. There is also an option to save a customized deck for your future use, although it is not secure and should not include any patient information. You can also turn a customized presentation into a video that your staff can show patients in the office or that can be sent to patients.

There are two other types of content available through the app. The first is drug information for a number of commonly prescribed medications. The other is content provided by “partners” which is typically commercial presentations from pharmaceutical companies and other providers of patient services. These two content categories only become available after you receive an unlock code from Liberate Health. I have not yet received my code so can only comment on the content as shown on the Liberate Health website. There it appears exactly as one would expect. The medication information is at a good level for patients. The third party content is designed to sell a product but is potentially useful.

This app has a lot of potential but really depends on Liberate Ideas quickly providing quality content. It also could be useful to anyone willing to develop their own content. At this point, there is no way to create a new presentation from scratch in the app.

More information can be found at liberatehealth.us.

Last Reviewed: September 2017