Parent, Pediatrician and Innovator Knows Importance of Communication
Dec 30, 2013 |
Manju Chopra is a mother of two and a practicing pediatrician. She’s also an innovator, which is most definitely linked to the first two.
Chopra is the co-founder of PingMD, a new app that helps pediatricians improve their communication with parents. Actually, it’s proving to be a helpful tool for any doctor.
“We initially started with pediatricians, but there was a growing need for a new tool in healthcare,” Chopra explains. “Now it has extended to plastic surgeons and urologists. There’s a lot of pressure on physicians, because patients want to communicate with them electronically, in ways that are secure and user friendly. That’s what we do with PingMD.”
Genesis of an app
The impetus behind PingMD started during Chopra’s second year in residency. She saw patients coming to the emergency room because they had left messages for their doctor but didn’t hear back for several hours. Or it was the weekend, and their doctor was not available. She also found herself with little time to spend with patients during office visits by the time she completed administrative paperwork, answered phone calls, and managed triage.
“I saw it as a gap in communication between patients and physicians,” Chopra says. “Patients want to have access that is more efficient, so they can get answers when they need to.”
Together with her husband, Gopal Chopra, MD, co-founder, president and CEO of PingMD, she began to put the pieces together. She recognized that mobile technology had the potential to improve patient care while making the doctor’s visit more personal. It could also enable parents and pediatricians to communicate in new and more efficient ways. In January 2010, PingMD was born.
Linking the healthcare community
Chopra recognized early in her career that while other industries were jumping on the digital bandwagon, patient navigation remained painfully analog. Parents were downloading apps and research symptoms online in the waiting room, but hospitals and pediatric practices still relied on pagers and pricey call services to handle clinical cases. As both a doctor and a parent, that didn’t sit well with her.
PingMD, Chopra explains, enhances communication between physicians and patients, between physicians themselves, and from physicians to nurses or staff. Case collaboration, she says, is the key. PingMD, which is a free, secure and HIPAA-compliant app, enables all members of a patient’s healthcare team to discuss or evaluate a case in a collaborative manner. The app also creates a permanent, digital health record, which patients can make available to anyone within their health network.
It’s also easy to use.
“There’s no need for training,” Chopra says. “Anyone who can use a smartphone can use the app. It can send a video or photo, which can be very helpful for a physician. Or, if a patient just has a question, they can send a message, a text, to their doctor.”
That also results in happier patients.
“Patients ask for [a doctor’s] cell phone number now,” Chopra says. “You know, people have more anxiety and there’s a lot of information out there. So they try to Google everything. And when you Google, you get hundreds of thousands of links when you type one word on anything. And so patients want access to the physician to know what they should do. PingMD gives them that access.”
Benefits for physicians
Chopra says that for her, the main benefit of using PingMD is that it provides a better and easier way to communicate with her patients.
“It brings your relationship with the patient closer because the patient leaves your office with the feeling that they have access to you,” she says. “It’s easier. They don’t have to go through a secretary, and they don’t have to end up in the ER because they couldn’t get an answer from their doctor. That’s very important in a patient-doctor relationship. I think that’s the best part of PingMD.”
Using the app also returns to physicians a bit more of their personal lives — something that Chopra says is one of the goals of PingMD.
“It cuts down on the number of calls you receive, which helps improve quality of life,” she explains. “You spend less time playing phone tag with patients and have more time to yourself.”
Importance of family
Family has been a big part of Chopra’s life dating back to her childhood in India. In fact, it was a childhood and family experience with the health care system that started her on the road to a career in medicine. Her grandmother was diabetic, and had other complicating health issues as well. Chopra recalls going to the doctors and not being able to understand what was happening.
“That was my first experience and challenge of dealing with the health care system,” she recalls. “There was strong family influence there, as well as my desire to make a difference when it comes to public health, and helping children.”
Being a parent, a pediatrician, and an innovator enable her to do just that.
“The most rewarding part of my life is being the mother of my kids,” Chopra says. “I really enjoy children. And that links to being a pediatrician. I love treating children.”