Nursing, which requires people to withstand 12-hour shifts filled with some pretty gruesome situations, isn’t for the faint of heart. With patient care being a top priority, nurses can sometimes find their jobs hindered by unnecessary back-and-forths to get the right information on the people they’re looking after.

The health care industry has built up a bad reputation when it comes to IT. Just now, some of the most prestigious hospitals in the world are starting to implement software to keep better track of patient information.

But for nurses, who have to be running from patient to patient, being tied to a computer to enter or retrieve useful info isn’t a great option – which is why Nightingale Apps’ Know My Patient product could be revolutionary.

Nightingale Apps was founded by Tiffany Kelley, a former Northeastern professor who not only has a PhD and MBA, but who is also a registered nurse. With that mixture of backgrounds, it only makes sense that she stepped up to create a way to let nurses do their jobs better.

Kelley gave me all of the details about Nightingale Apps’ first product from the Web Summit in Dublin, where she was selected to exhibit Know My Patient. Not surprisingly, her experience working as a nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as her doctoral research at Duke, drove her to develop the startup’s initial app.

“As a nurse, there’s always something more you could be doing for a patient.”

“I’d sit down with nurses, and they would tell me that most of the time, they feel like glorified data entry specialists,” Kelley said of her time researching.

“I’d look around, watching all of them entering information from pieces of paper all day,” she continued. “After a while, I started thinking to myself, ‘We don’t need this. This isn’t where we’re supposed to be going in the nursing field.’”

From paper to app

Over the course of our conversation, Kelley described the piece of paper phenomenon to me in great detail. For many nurses, it’s the only way to have ready access to information about their patients or know which questions they have to look up next time they’re near a computer.

“At our jobs, we may sit at computers for hours to do what we need to do,” Kelley started. “But that’s not feasible for nurses, so they usually have a piece of paper in their pocket from the start of their shift with hand-off, straight through to when they end.”

“It’s the only way they’re able to know what’s going on with their patients and manage questions like whether their labs are back or if they’re allergic to any medications,” she added. “I knew there had to be a better way for them to track that.”

Tiffany Kelley, founder and CEO of Nightingale Apps.

With Nightingale Apps’ Know My Patient, nurses will be able to access and enter any information about the people they’re taking care of without having to ask around or head to a computer. Ideally, this will give nurses more time and insight to do the best job they can.

“As a nurse, there’s always something more you could be doing for a patient,” Kelley explained. “I’m trying to provide a way to alleviate pain points that don’t need to be there, allowing them to build better nurse-patient relationships – to be better nurses in general.”

Nightingale’s game plan

Right now, Nightingale Apps is focusing on getting Know My Patient ready for the big leagues before the startup develops complementary solutions. Kelley is currently aiming to perfect the app at smaller hospitals and will go on from there.

“I’m going to be strategic. I want to prove our technology before taking it to big hospitals like MGH or the Brigham,” she told me. “I’m trying to tackle using it at a smaller place, where we can be nimble and test everything out first. I want to figure out how to minimize implementation challenges and prove its value before moving on to larger organizations in the Boston area.”

Luckily, this testing period for Know My Patient gives the major hospitals around Boston the time they need to take the first steps in becoming tech-savvy. Kelley hopes that the app’s fine-tuning will coincide with Partners’ Epic implementation timeline.

“It’s timely because Partners is gradually going live with Epic,” she said. “One of Know My Patient’s core requirements is that a hospital has an electronic medical record system, so it wouldn’t make sense for us to go after them until they’re up and running on Epic.”

Images via Tiffany Kelley.