DENVER -- As Colorado hospitals enforce no visitor policies to protect patients, COVID-19 is making it harder for doctors to communicate with patients' families who are anxiously awaiting updates; but a local startup is stepping up to help close the gap.
"(We're) deploying our technology as rapidly as possible as we all hear about the news," said, Dr. Randall Porter, a neurosurgeon with Barrow Neurosurgical Associates in Phoenix, Ariz.
Porter created the app called Medical Memory after his father was diagnosed with cancer.
"The idea came from my own experience as a family member, my father had cancer," he said.
Porter said when he asked his dad details about his doctor visits, he could only remember of fraction of what he had been told.
"If I'm going to tell my father to record the doctor, which might scare him a little bit, why I am not offering that?" he said.
The app gives providers a way to record doctor-patient visits that can then be shared with family members and friends, but with COVID-19 forcing hospitals to ban visitors, Porter saw an opportunity to use his app in a new way.
"I did a brain surgery yesterday on a lady with a blood clot in her head. She's 60 years old and they still wouldn't let her husband come in to be at the bedside or be with her in the ICU, so they're being extremely restrictive," he said.
Porter said they are now offering the app to nurses and doctors to send a one-way video update directly to family members with loved ones in the hospital.
"This will hopefully improve and bridge that communication gap that we're experiencing given the limitation of visitors," said Porter.
Medical Memory normally charges a fee for its service, but right now they are waiving the cost. Any doctor can download and starting using it for free during the outbreak.
"We're going to figure out the economics later," said Porter. "There are a lot of people in this world, and in this nation that are already hurting and will be hurting even more, and we want to do anything that we can to help."
The app is not only being used by hospitals.
"We want to get that right kind of information out there, I think there's a lot of uncertainty," said Reed Soukup, a physician's assistant for an ENT in Fort Collins.
Soukup said his office is using the app to share videos with all their patients about coronavirus.
"Let our patients know procedures for COVID-19, what kind of symptoms to look out for, even if they get it … what kind happens if they get it," he said.
Soukup said patients want to hear from their doctors directly, and the app is a way to do that while keeping everyone safe.
"Definitely think that hearing it from your doctor helps the trust out there," he said.