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Las Vegas hospice ventures into mobile technology

Most folks think of care services when they think of hospices, but one enterprising hospice in Las Vegas is expanding its business model by venturing into mobile technology.

Nathan Adelson Hospice, the largest non-profit hospice in southern Nevada, has developed and is marketing an app, called iRefer DR, that allows a healthcare provider to send a referral directly to a recipient.

At first, NAH launched an app customized for its own use, said Karen Rubel, NAH’s vice president for development. But when the organization saw the positive response to it, NAH decided to start a new for-profit arm to create a referral app that can be used for anyone in healthcare, not just other hospice companies. The new app made its debut at industry conferences beginning last March.

Like all healthcare companies, even hospices are facing increasing competition and have to innovate, and the referral app is the idea that NAH jumped on.

“Our development of this app as a product to sell was really a way for us to keep ourselves relevant in the face of competition, and to really offer this as a tool for other hospices to use that would really help support them and support the hospice industry, and make some money for Nathan Adelson,” said Rubel.

As part of its mission, NAH does not turn people away, Rubel said, which equates to about $1 million each year in free care. While donations are a big part of covering that free care, she said, the organization is hoping the new app will help bring in money to bolster its mission.

“We’re certainly not making millions on this thing (but) we’re hopeful,” Rubel said with a laugh. “It supplements a little bit of that care for patients. We just put it right back into the hospice.”

As of right now, the app and the new business NAH has created to support it is in its infancy. Like starting up any business, NAH has had to incur expenses, such as hiring new staff. Rubel said NAH is hoping to soon be able to pay off its initial investment of $18,000 to $20,000 for developing the first app template. NAH sells its iRefer DR app for $7,500, said Rubel. Currently, the organization has 20 clients.

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