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Feb 15 2012   2:31PM GMT

Who’s the Family Medical Officer in your household?

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
Family Medical Officer, FMO, mHealth applications

Do you have a designated Family Medical Officer TM (FMO) in your household? I’m referring to the person responsible for making the majority of health care decisions for your family.  If you are like the majority of families I asked, you don’t. Or if you do, it’s simply by way of a presumption (i.e., “my wife typically deals with that type of stuff”).  According to U.S. Department of Labor statistics, women make 80 percent of the health care decisions for their families and are more likely to act as the primary caregiver when a family member becomes ill.

According to El Camino Hospital, a 542-bed, acute care facility located in Mountain View and Los Gatos, CA, it’s time for that one-sided, lackadaisical approach to family health maintenance to change. 

In December 2011, the Silicon Valley-based system released its first mobile health application created with the FMO in mind. The FMO app, which can be downloaded for free on both Android and iOS devices, provides users with instant access to health services and care information provided by the hospital and is designed to help families make informed, engagement-driven decisions.

As Barbara Dehn, R.N., M.S. and nurse practitioner at the Women’s Hospital at El Camino notes, being an “FMO is one of the most important titles you can have, as that person is responsible for making health care decisions for the family. As a result, FMOs need adequate knowledge and tools to satisfy their multiple roles as decision makers and consumers of health care.” 

Greg Walton, CIO for El Camino, has been involved with the app’s development from the very beginning, noting that the organization’s strategic approach to its creation was grounded in enabling connectivity and consumer engagement. While the first version was “function light and architecture heavy,” Walton assures the final release has increased capabilities designed for long term engagement. The app is able to tailor messages and provide tips and tools around specific care plans, and Walton hopes that FMOs “will begin to view the tool like a trusted friend, an extension of their decision making process.”

Some of the benefits of the FMO app are as follows:

  • Site integration and system security: Can integrate with both the hospital website and additional hospital IT systems — in a secure fashion.
  • ER information: Provides current wait times for El Camino’s Mountain View emergency room. Users can also view a checklist of things to bring with them to the ER and dial 911 with a single button.
  • Physician finder: Users can search for an El Camino physician by name, specialty or location.
  • Access to family medical history: FMOs can keep track of their families’ medical histories in this password-protected tool.
  • Hospital resources: Offers access to a comprehensive health library, a drug reference and a health encyclopedia.

To learn more and read the full press release, visit and follow El Camino Hospital on Twitter.

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