Larkspur-based Hospice by the Bay is offering a free app for physicians to download onto mobile devices that is designed to save time and provide information for both doctors and patients.

Doctors will now be able to refer patients for care without having to fax a written order, as well as more efficiently admit and communicate with patients. The app also provides physicians with criteria for eligibility of care, a drug formulary that reviews how to treat certain symptoms, and guidelines for end-of-life care by type of diagnosis.

Patients can download the app to learn about referals, admittance eligibility and patient-doctor relationships.

"We're putting tools into the hands of people who need to use them in learning about end-of-life care," said David Zwicky, the agency's director of business strategy, who helped design the app.

Kris Montgomery, a spokeswoman for Hospice by the Bay, said Zwicky and others learned of a similar app being used elsewhere and developed an improved version for Hospice by the Bay.

"We wanted something that doctors feel comfortable with, so we can help the family even more with a difficult emotional transition," Montgomery said. "We can get involved even sooner, which gives them peace of mind."

Montgomery said that although the app doesn't need to replace traditional forms of commmunication between doctors and patients, the digital advancement is helpful.

"So many doctors are using tablets and phones, and it makes sense to ease the process this way," she said.

The app, which Hospice by the Bay began developing about four months ago, was released in June and is available via iTunes.

"There's been nice feedback," Zwicky said. "It's too early to tell how they're going to use the app, but people are downloading it."

Contact Sarah Goldwasser via email at localnews@marinij.com