Samir Patel, DO, a member of the HSHS Medical Group and pediatric hospitalist at St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, Ill., regularly recommends to parents, grandparents and other caregivers that they download St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s free Kid Care mobile app. He sees the app as a means for parents to obtain reliable information regarding their children’s care without running the risk of misinformation provided by “Dr. Google.”

“I always explain that the app doesn’t take the place of their children’s doctor, but it does provide answers to common concerns such as recommended dosages for medications, when a fever is considered slight or harmful, and rashes that warrant a trip to the ER,” he explains. “I consider it such an important aid that I take the time to show parents how to download the app and give them a demonstration on how to use it. In addition to parents, grandparents find the app especially helpful because it gives them confidence in caring for their grandchildren. Not all grandparents are proficient on the computer, but most of them have smart phones and know how to use them.”

The Kid Care app has proven to be beneficial for Dr. Patel’s time management as well. “The app helps filter out a lot of phone calls because parents have the answers for many basic questions right at their fingertips,” says Dr. Patel. “The app also teaches caregivers how to ask the right questions in regard to a particular disease or symptom, which helps broaden their understanding even further.”

Introduced in 2010, Kid Care has been downloaded close to 50,000 times by both iPhone and Android users. It is designed to provide parents with guidelines for making decisions about what level of medical care their children need and how to treat them at home when it’s safe to do so. The app is derived from Barton Schmitt, MD’s clinical protocols used by the hospital’s call center, as well as by pediatricians and nurses in 10,000 practices and 400 nurse advice call centers in the United States and Canada. The protocols have been used for 15 years on more than 150 million symptom calls, and are updated regularly.

In addition, the app features Parent Advice content that deals with the most common behavior and wellness questions parents ask their physicians. Each topic provides a description of the issue, three to five specific recommendations to address the concern, and in many cases additional resources that may be useful to a specific situation. 

“Since introducing Kid Care four years ago, we’ve continued to enhance the app’s features  with helpful resources for parents  such as a health library, links to our medical services, and a physician finder,” says Jackie Ferman, the hospital’s director of marketing.

Learn more about the Kid Care and how to download the app.