Morristown (N.J.) Medical Center opens technology-driven patient engagement resource to connect patients and health care providers.

When patients know more about an aspect of their care than their health care providers do, it’s time for those providers to get some expert help.

With interest in and use of mobile health technology growing quickly among patients of Morristown (N.J.) Medical Center, executives decided to give providers and patients a readily accessible place to go for advice and assistance.

The result was HealtheConnect, an Apple Genius Bar-type of retail operation found on the main floor of the hospital.

“The reason we opened this in the hospital, and it’s so visible, is because we want our doctors and nurses and other health care professionals to be a resource for patients,” says David Shulkin, M.D., president of the hospital, which is part of Atlantic Health System.

The operation also can assist patients with accessing and using their electronic health records. “The HealtheConnect store is the front end to getting people much more engaged about owning their own information and using it as an active tool,” Shulkin says.

A similar type of store, the O Bar, was opened by New Orleans-based Ochsner Health System last year, and has been kept busy since its opening in June. The O Bar, located in the system’s main primary care facility, serves 10–20 people a day, some for just a few minutes and others for as long as an hour, says Braden Lemon, the technology sales associate who runs the day-to-day operations.

Both operations accept faux prescriptions for apps or other technology from providers, and offer wearable devices, of which Morristown is selling “a fair amount,” Shulkin says.

But as technology and health care change, the HealtheConnect store will need to change along with it.

“In many ways, this is a learning lab for us,” Shulkin says.