Highlights

Emergency room clinician Twitter-like app: BEAPPER

BEAPPER will provide real time updates about patients to doctors and nurses in Boston Children's Emergency Department.


For Debra Weiner, MD, PhD, director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, working in the Emergency Medicine Department is a numbers game. During a 12-hour shift she works with more than 50 other providers, sees up to 75 patients and analyzes dozens of lab results.

Dr. Weiner thought there was room for improvement to save time in the emergency room; A better communication system would help clinicians meet each other before treating patients, and could even alert them in real time when lab results were back or when beds became available.

With a smartphone app in mind, she applied for and was awarded a grant in 2009 from Children’s Technology Development Fund (TDF).

With money from the TDF, she applied for a FastTrack Innovation in Technology Award (ITA) through Children’s Innovation Acceleration Program. With these combined resources, Dr. Weiner was able to support a team of software programmers built an iPhone app that would allow physicians and nurses to communicate about incoming patients, lab results and a patient’s health status or wait time through brief messages similar to tweets. They also were able to link the program to the Children’s information technology system.

BEAPPER will provide real time updates about patients to doctors and nurses in the Emergency Department.

“This is a great example of where having two different funding mechanisms, each with their own team and expertise, synergized to move a promising technology forward,” said Monique Yoakim-Turk, PhD, partner, Technology Development Fund.

The app will display patient profiles, the patient’s chief complaint, how long he or she has been waiting, any allergies and which room that patient is assigned to. A single log-in allows the app to be used on the go, from any location within the hospital.

All patients’ information is kept confidential and the information is erased from the iPhones as soon as a physician logs out of the BEAPPER app.

BEAPPER iPhone Image

Weiner named the software B.E.A.P.P.E.R.— the Bidirectional Electronic Alert Patient-Centered Provider Encounter Record. “What’s exciting about B.E.A.P.P.E.R. is that it’s lightweight and fast,” says Naomi Fried, PhD, chief innovation officer. “The ease of use and friendly graphic interface are big wins for this project.”

If physicians and nurses can save just five minutes per patient, Weiner calculates that the ED would be able to treat 1,389 more patients each year. And she hopes her system will eventually be used by every physician, nurse and trainee hospital-wide.

The system is now being tested in the ED and results will be available within the next few months.

Children’s is currently exploring partnership opportunities to optimize the system and is looking for commercial partners to distribute and implement the BEAPPER system to benefit emergency departments worldwide.

[Editor's Note: For more information or to learn about partnership opportunities related to this technology, please contact Boston Children's Technology and Innovation Development Office or phone at (617) 919-3019.]

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