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EMR-Switching Physicians Demand Mobile EMR Apps

Posted on June 3, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

We already know that many physicians are considering dumping their current EMR, with up to one fifth telling research firm Black Book Rankings that they were considering a switch in 2013. Now,  Black Book says that it’s found a focus for the switch:  that physicians are looking for new EMRs to offer integrated mobile applications as front ends.

Seldom do you see as unanimous a decision as doctors seem to have made in this case. One hundred percent of practices responding to Black Book’s follow-up poll on EMR systems told the researchers that they expect vendors to allow access to patient data wherever physicians are providing or reviewing care, according to the firm’s managing partner Doug Brown.

Not surprisingly, vendors are responding to the upsurge in demand, which has certainly been building for a while. As part of the current survey, 122 vendors told Black Book that they plan to launch fully-functional mobile access and/or iPad-native versions of their EMR products by the end of this year, while another 135 say they have mobile apps on their near-term product roadmap.

Demand for core patient care functionality in mobile EMRs outpaces physicians’ interest in other types of mobile functionality by a considerable margin.

According to Black Book researchers, 8 percent of office-based physicians use a mobile device for electronic prescribing, accessing records, ordering tests or viewing result.  But 83 percent said they would jump on mobile EMR functions to update patient charts, check labs and order medications if their currrent EMR made them available.

When asked what  mobile EMR feature problems need to be addressed, current users of both virtualized and native iPad applications saw the same flaws as being the most important. Ninety-five percent of both groups said that the small screen of a smartphone was the biggest mobile EMR feature problem. Eighty-eight percent said difficulties with easy of movement within the chart was an issue, 83 percent said they wanted a simplified version of the EMR on their mobile screen and 71 percent wanted to see screens optimized for touch use.

For more info on EMR Switching check out this whitepaper called Making the Switch: Replacing Your EHR for More Money and More Control.

Mobile Health Moving The Network Edge Out Permanently

Posted on June 1, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Managing devices at the edges of the network is not a new problem.  In fact, looked at one way, we’re still dealing with the same problems of sharing computing intelligence that the first gen of client-server developers did.

But in a world where mobile devices are expected to do such critical work, I believe we’re at a unique juncture. HIT leaders are going to have to figure out how to completely transform balance between smart/dumb clients and their relationship to applications.  In other words, they’re going to have to manage from the edge in as well as from the core outward from now on. Too strong a statement?  Hear me out and see what you think.

Since the 1960s, we’ve gone back and forth between expecting edge devices to be dumb conduits for computing results (the green screen) and super-smart computing devices which needed the network only to connect users to each other.

Now, here in health IT land, we’re trying to find a balance that generations of brilliant developers and engineers have struggled to achieve.  With the advent of relatively cheap, flexible WiFi networks and widespread use of 3G/4G devices on the road, we’ve got the network infrastructure nailed for the time being.

But what do we do with the pesky limitations of those oh-so-popular iPads, Android tablets and smartphones?  Short-term, the answer for many IT organizations is making EMRs accessible only via devices that can run a remote desktop.  This compromise works for some users and is detested by others.  This may be a decent technical solution, but it may not be a usable one.

According to one reader, the way to create this balance is to create a better virtual desktop:

Were I a present-day EHR vendor, I’d start designing interfaces that work well when accessed via touch-screen devices that are using remote-desktop software, in preparation for a future when it is standard practice for all clinical staff to carry around iPad-like devices.

I think he’s dead-on. These devices aren’t an add-on anymore, they’re a permanent part of the clinical workflow where a lot of important, nay, life and death work will get done.  Readers, are you aware of anyone who has created an iPad virtual desktop interface which feels workable to the clinicians you know?

Compelling Case for Personal Health Records (PHR)

Posted on March 4, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently read an article (which I can’t find now) that said, We don’t log in to check our health data as much as we do our financial data. This was a pretty interesting statement considering a few days back I posted this tweet about PHR and being an active patient:

Figuring out the right motivation for someone to use a PHR has been something that’s been on my mind for quite a while. You may remember my post about requesting an appointment and sending your medical record using a PHR where I was asking some similar questions.

There’s certainly a place for software that connects patients with their doctors for things like scheduling an appointment, paying their bills, requesting prescription refills, and even doing e-visits. In fact, one of my advertisers recently launched an enterprise patient portal that has these types of features (check out this video which describes their feature set).

There’s no arguing that these types of connections to doctors are valued and something that patients would love to have. Many doctors are still on the fence about them, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing more and more of these types of services over time. However, while being really great features they still don’t solve the problem of a healthy patient wanting to log in to this portal regularly.

I think one game changer when it comes to PHR will likely be around an emerging set of devices which track our health. For example, over on Smart Phone Healthcare I recently wrote about Tracking Fitness and Activity Levels on Your Smartphone. These devices will track your steps, calories, heart rate, and sleep data and upload it to a centralized location where you can see all that data and watch your fitness and activity levels change over time. Plus, I believe we’re just getting started with collecting this type of data. You can easily see this moving to blood sugar levels, cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.

Now imagine that all of this data was available in your PHR. This type of data would be constantly updated and seeing the graphs of this health data over time is something that I’d login to check as much as I do my financial data.

Previously, I’d always been a bit down on these types of tracking devices. I’ve argued that we’re missing that link for doctors to be able to do something with the data that patients are collecting. I still think this is the case, but just because your doctor might not use the data a patient collects doesn’t mean it can’t be valuable to the patient to collect and see that data regularly. Plus, once EHR software and doctors are ready to digest the data, you’ll be ready as well.

Guest Post: Will Your New Smartphone Ruin Your Practice?

Posted on April 29, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Guest Post: Hayden Hartland works at Spearstone, makers of Spearstone’s DiskAgent offering which provides a multi-platform approach to smartphone security by allowing lock, data-wipe, and GPS-tracking from any web-browser along with online backup for your business.

Breathtaking advances in smartphone capabilities are changing the ways we work and live. In their latest forms, phones such as the iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone, Symbian, and Palm are beginning to rival, and in several areas (think GPS, camera and video) exceed the capabilities of laptops and desktops.

Increasingly, we email, keep contacts, track tasks and appointments, browse the internet, capture family moments, connect with friends, shop, and even run powerful business apps from our hand-held do-it-alls. No wonder then that surveys show some people giving up computers altogether for smartphones. Trends indicate smartphone sales and usage will exceed that of laptops in the next five years. Analysts describe a future where Smartphones that dock to keyboards and monitors obsolesce the laptop altogether.

The problem is that while smartphones are leapfrogging laptops and desktops in utility and connectivity, they have introduced security risks that too few take seriously. Unlike desktops and laptops where some of the biggest risks lie in viruses, and the eventual failure of spinning hard drives, the biggest risk with a smartphone is the loss and exposure of the information you store on it.

More than 5,000 smartphones are lost or stolen each day. Most smartphones hold thousands of confidential records – patient lists, emails, documents, medical records, patient payment records, and so on – yet there is little or no ability to prevent their compromise if your phone is lost or stolen. Many were carried by healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, dentists, office managers, billing providers, support staff, and so on) whose information represents real risk to their practices and patients if compromised.

Next time you notice a staff member, equipment rep, supply rep  or any BAA using a smartphone, consider asking, “Are our emails accessible on that phone?” and “If you lose it, can anyone access them on the phone?” If you are a medical professional carrying a smartphone you need protection because odds are that eventually you will lose your phone. Furthermore, HIPAA, the FTC and state consumer organizations require notification of all patients of a data breach (not exactly good for any practice or healthcare business).

Current phones and typical user practices do a poor job of safeguarding your confidential information. While many smartphones can require a password or PIN number to use them, few of us can tolerate the hassle of actually using one. We simply use our phones too frequently to put up with it. Yet without one, we’re completely exposed. And while a phone password may protect your information in the case of loss, it can’t stop someone with phone hacking skills who wants to access your information.

Here are some practical tips you can employ to reduce your risks:

  1. Create a passcode for your phone. If you (like me) hate being pestered by it, set it to be required after 4 or 8 hours, so that you only need to enter it once or twice a day. If your phone is stolen and locked the thief will either need to hack your phone or reset the phone to factory settings thereby removing all the data in the process.
  2. Create a splash screen when your phone is locked displaying a contact phone number or email address and reward value. Consider etching your name and contact information somewhere on the phone.
  3. Remove sensitive information from your phone as soon as possible.
  4. Write down your IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number. If your phone is stolen, call your carrier immediately and ask them to deactivate the IMEI number and the phone will be rendered inoperable for calling on all networks. This ensures the phone is unusable although it doesn’t protect any unencrypted information on your phone.

Fortunately, a few larger clinics and hospitals are beginning to address these concerns. If yours is a larger practice with a Blackberry Enterprise server and or Exchange Mail Server and your users exclusively use the corresponding phones (Blackberries, and Windows Mobile devices), you can remotely remove emails and some other sensitive information in the event of a loss or theft. Other alternatives are to deploy encryption software or use the expensive MobileMe services provided by Apple. For other organizations, Spearstone’s DiskAgent offering provides a multi-platform approach to smartphone security by allowing lock, data-wipe, and GPS-tracking from any web-browser.