Searching for the nearest ER? There’s an app for that – if you want to find an emergency room in the Research Triangle, that is.

WakeMed Health & Hospitals in Raleigh has launched a hospital smartphone application whose features include an emergency department locator that offers turn-by-turn GPS directions automatically generated from the phone’s location. But it will only take users to the nearest WakeMed emergency facility.

WakeMed is one of a growing number of hospitals that are adding smart phone apps as another way to connect with patients. OhioHealth of Columbus, Ohio earlier this year released a smartphone app for expectant mothers that provides text, images and videos about their pregnancies. The app also provides features such as appointment reminders and screening test explanations. The Mayo Clinic last year started a healthcare mobile apps company called mRemedy.

Debbie Laughery, WakeMed’s vice president of public relations, said that the hospital looked to see what other hospitals had done with smart phone apps and found that so far, few have them. She said some children’s hospitals have apps intended to provide information to parents about typical child ailments. Laughery said WakeMed opted not to replicate that because so much of that information is available from other sources.

WakeMed began work on the app last September. The reason it’s taken nearly a year to get the app out is because the hospital wanted to include a feature that provides updates on emergency department wait times, Laughery said. That feature is still not yet ready.

Other hospital app features currently available include a doctor finder and a place for patients to input health and insurance information. Laughery said that these inputs are helpful in case a patient is found incapacitated. The information on the app can provide responders with details about a patient’s medical allergies or health conditions. Besides providing directions and details for all WakeMed facilities the app also offers campus maps for users to navigate once they arrive.

WakeMed’s app works on iPhone and Android devices. The free app is available at the Android Market, iTunes Store or at

Get the latest news alerts: Follow WRAL Tech Wire at Twitter.