Mayo Clinic designs apps for teaching, diagnosis

From a blood transfusion teaching tool to a Facebook-like site for patients, the hospital group is placing more information in the hands of its people.

To the layman, it might seem that blood transfusions are an unqualified good. After all, the Red Cross reports that a single donation can save three lives.

But 45 percent of transfusions are unnecessary, says Mayo Clinic doctor Mark H. Ereth, and stressed cells that have been stored in blood banks are associated with an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, infections, and death.

So how to wean doctors and hospitals from a habit of overdoing transfusions? Mayo has designed game app that teaches doctors when to order—or to forgo—a transfusion.

At a recent Ragan.com conference at Mayo Clinic, Ereth and others demonstrated apps that help employees learn though gaming, find experts in unusual diseases, check medical records, and, for those so inclined, dodge the boss when he pages them.

Patient-oriented apps help them find information and connect with one another.

Citing an article published by the World Future Society, Ereth suggested that gaming in education is the wave of the future.

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