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iPad Lifecycle Versus Other Tablets

Posted on February 13, 2014 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.

Every once in a while I like to put my old IT hat back on (I am @techguy on Twitter after all) and look at some of the more physical IT aspects of EMR and healthcare IT. I still get really excited about EMR Technology products and the evolution of these products.

I’ve long argued that most IT administrators would much rather have a set of Windows 8 tablets in their environment over a bunch of iPads or Android tablets. The biggest reasons for this was because of the security and management of these devices. Most hospital and healthcare IT administrators are comfortable securing a Windows based device and they aren’t as comfortable with new tablets like the iPad or Android tablets. Plus, the tools for managing and imaging Windows based tablets is so much more developed than those of the iPad or Android (although, I think both of these are catching up pretty quickly).

While I think both of these arguments are reasonable, I heard two new arguments for why an organization might want to stick with Windows 8 tablets instead of moving to iPads and Androids.

The first reason is that the lifecycle of a Windows 8 machine is much longer than an iPad or Android tablet. A Windows 8 tablet that you bought 5 years ago could still easily be supported by an IT shop and will work with your various software systems. A 3 year old iPad could very well not work with your EHR software and Apple has already stopped supporting O/S upgrades on the original iPads which poses similar HIPAA Compliance issues to Windows XP.

The whole release cycle with iPad and Android tablets is intent on replacing the previous versions. They don’t quite make them obsolete, but they’ve been releasing new versions every year with the intent for you to buy a new one every year. This stands in stark contrast to the Windows tablet approach.

Another reason many IT admins will likely lean towards Windows 8 tablets over iPads and Androids is that they’re just generally more rugged. Sure, you can make iPads and Androids more rugged with certain cases, but then you lose the look and feel of having an iPad in your hand and nicely in your pocket.

This point is accentuated even more when you look at devices like the new Toughpad tablets from Panasonic. They’ve finally got the processing power in these machines to match that of a desktop so they can run any software you want. Plus, they are crazy durable. I saw them at CES last month and a journalist from India was slamming it on the ground and stepping on it and the thing kept ticking without a problem. I don’t need to explain to any of you why durability matters in healthcare where you’re always carrying around multiple items and drops are common.

Of course, the reality is that it’s “sexy” to carry around an iPad while you work. Software vendors are going to continue developing for the iPad and doctors are going to want to be carrying an iPad around with them. IT staff are likely going to have to support iPads and other tablets in their environment. However, when it’s left to the IT staff, you can be sure that the majority of them will be pushing for the more rugged, easier to secure, easier to manage, and longer lifecycle Windows 8 tablets. Unless of course, they’re ordering an iPad for their own “test” environment.

Apple’s October 22nd Mac and iPad Event – What’s Coming?

Posted on October 16, 2013 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 was excited to read this Techcrunch article on the next Apple event that is scheduled for Tuesday, October 22nd in San Francisco. Of course, Apple always tries to keep their announcements private, but the tech press has done a good job getting the leaks just the same. So, I was interested to see what might be coming out of Apple.

The unfortunate part of the Techcrunch post is that there was no game changers listed in the post. Basically, a little bit faster, a nicer screen, better resolution, and a small change in weight. None of those really impact how you use the device. Sure, they’re all nice and in aggregate we gain some benefit, but it’s nothing that will change how we’re using the devices today.

Of course, Techcrunch was just trying to guess what Apple’s going to announce. So, I hope that they’re totally wrong. I hope that Apple comes out with a cool wristband technology that changes the way we consider the battle for the wrist. Something new and different. Sure, there are some apps that are limited by the processing power of a phone or by the screen resolution, but all of that will come.

Anyone else have predictions on what Apple could announce that would provide an amazing opportunity for healthcare?

These 5 Innovative Companies Are Cause for Health IT Hope

Posted on October 1, 2013 I Written By

James Ritchie is a freelance writer with a focus on health care. His experience includes eight years as a staff writer with the Cincinnati Business Courier, part of the American City Business Journals network. Twitter @HCwriterJames.

When the topic is health IT, it’s easy to get caught up in discussing the major EMR players.

And because of Meaningful Use, there’s a tendency for everyone to do the same things — even if they go about it in different ways. Whether you’re a giant like Epic, an upstart like Kareo or a specialty firm like the gastroenterology-focused gMed, you’re likely making sure, for example, that your customers will be able to exchange structured care summaries with other providers and with patients.

But there’s still plenty of innovation in health IT, much of it with little or no connection to MU2 or other federal requirements. Startups all over the country are trying to improve lives through more efficient collection and use of data.

Here’s a sampling of startups and specific innovations:

  • HealthLandscape. This Cincinnati-based firm markets a mapping application that lets you input data from a variety of sources. The idea is to better understand health information by visualizing it. The company is a subsidiary of the nonprofit Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, which worked with the American Association of Family Physicians and the Robert Graham Center to develop the platform.
  • SwiftPayMD. This iPhone and iPad app from Atlanta-based Iconic Data allows physicians to note diagnostic and billing codes by voice right after seeing a patient. I have to admit, when I stopped to think about it, I was surprised that doctors couldn’t already do this. The major selling point: It helps practices to get paid as much as two weeks sooner.
  • Vivify Health. Based in Plano, Texas, this startup has created a cloud-based platform for monitoring and testing patients remotely. Its system works with just about any consumer mobile device to provide customized care plans, coaching, educational videos and interactive video conferencing. In a press release, Vivify Health said it’s helping hospitals, home health agencies, payers and others to reduce readmissions, manage chronic diseases and improve care transitions. It received funding this year from Ascension Health Ventures and Heritage Group.
  • Drchrono. This Mountain View, Calif.-based company bills its flagship product as “the original mobile EHR built for the iPad.” It was part of the Y Combinator, a Mountain View-based seed accelerator, in 2011. Drchrono in 2012 raised $2.8 million in funding led by venture capitalist Yuri Milner.
  • Doc Halo. This firm, based in Cincinnati, makes possible HIPAA-secure texting. (If this list seems slightly Cincinnati-centric, it’s because I worked in the city for eight years and know the market better than I know others.) Many doctors use regular text messaging to discuss patient information, but they shouldn’t. Doc Halo’s mobile app system uses several levels of encryption.

These are just a few projects that I thought were cool. Based on what they’re doing, there’s plenty to be hopeful about in health IT. There are, of course, many other firms equally worthy of mention. And there are now accelerator programs all over the country specifically for health IT startups.

I often get the feeling that the federal government’s involvement is taking the joy out of health IT. That’s not the case, but amid the push to meet MU2 requirements, you might have to look a little harder to find it.

And with these startups, here it is.

Disclosure: gMed and DrChrono are both advertisers on this site.

Lumosity: An Exercise Program For Your Brain

Posted on June 10, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

So often, we focus on our physical health, but neglect our mental health. All forms of dementia are devastating. Many people complain of brain fog. Thousands of people suffer from attention disorders. While I don’t claim to know the cure for any of these things (or even the cause) I do think that exercising the mind is just as important as exercising your body. I mean, if your brain fails, then your life ceases to exist. It’s a pretty important thing to take care of!

I saw a commercial today for a website called Lumosity.com. It sparked my interest, so I decided to check it out. The website says that it “turns neuroscience breakthroughs into fun, effective games” and it’s a way to “harness your brains neuroplasticity [the brain’s ability to grow and expand] and train your way into a brighter life.”

To be honest, it seems like it is set up a bit like an exercise website. When you sign up, you answer some questions about where you want changes to be made. Changes can be made in any of five categories, all of which have subcategories. These categories are memory, attention, speed, flexibility, and problem solving. You can select as many or as few of these categories as you want. After doing this, you can create an account and view your free and personalized training program, and you can personalize your training even further.

The program changes with you — as you get better at the challenges, you get newer ones. Each of the “sessions” include a variety of games to help you improve in the areas you initially selected. You get points very every game you do, to help you track your progress. The games are actually pretty fun, and challenging, and scientifically developed to help increase your brain function.

The basic version of Lumosity is free, but if you really want to get into the program, there are paid options. This gives you more games each day, more personalized training, and more. People spend hundreds, maybe even thousands, on personal training at a gym, as well as countless hours…so why not spend some of those valuable resources on making sure your brain is in tip-top shape? I thought this was a cool idea, and I think it could be a great resources for anyone wanting to exercise their mind. Apparently, 97% of Lumosity users improve after just 10 hours of training (which can be seen in the personalized tracking portion of the website.)_

Lumosity Brain Trainer is also available as a free download for iOS devices.

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.

WebMD Introduces New Allergy App

Posted on April 3, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

WebMD sure is trying to make a name for themselves in the mHealth world. In addition to the other apps they released last year, they just added another app to that suite. This time, it focuses on allergies.

I think that everyone probably knows someone that has some kind of allergy, or even suffers from one themselves. My husband has seasonal allergies, and my son has several food allergies. While this app is geared more toward people who suffer from allergies themselves, I think just about anyone could benefit from it.

The app features a few different sections, which include:

  • Allergy Forecast: Allergy levels specific for your location that are regularly updated. You can also look up the “allergy forecast” for places you are visiting.
  • Personalized Forecasts and Tips: After indicating which allergies you and/or your family suffer from, the app will give you tips on how to manage those allergies.
  • Allergies 101: This includes WebMD’s library of allergy related resources — articles, photos, and videos. It focuses on seven categories: Outdoor, indoor, skin, drug, food, insect bites and stinks, and latex.
  • Timely Alerts: This helps you plan your days, and know if certain triggers will be worse, according to the allergy forecast.

The part of this app I think makes this one everyone should download is Allergies 101. You never know when you will be around someone when they have an allergic reaction to something, and being able to quickly access information may be important. As a parent, and especially because I have a child with allergies, I feel it’s important to be able to access that information at a moment’s notice. It would be easier to go straight to this app, rather than messing around with Google.

It’s fun to see WebMD coming out with new apps fairly regularly. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of WebMD, and I love using their apps.

This app can be downloaded for iOS for free here.

The Health IT Tablet Shift and Some Hope for Windows 8

Posted on March 20, 2013 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.

One of the most amazing shifts that we’ve seen in healthcare is the acceptance of the tablet form factor. I’ve been fascinated with tablets since they first came out. The idea was always great, but in implementation the idea always fell apart. Many a sales rep told me how the tablet was going to be huge for healthcare. Yet, everyone that I know that got one of the really early tablets stopped using it.

Of course, the tablets that I’m referring to our the pre-iPad tablets. As one Hospital CTO told me at HIMSS, “the iPad changed tablets.

It’s so true. Now there isn’t even a discussion of whether the tablet is the right form factor for healthcare. The only question I heard asked at HIMSS was if a vendor had a tablet version of their application. In fact, I’m trying to remember if I saw a demo of any product at HIMSS that wasn’t on a tablet. Certainly all of the EHR Interface Improvements that I saw at HIMSS were all demonstrated on a tablet.

As an extension of the idea of tablets place in healthcare, I was also interested in the healthcare CTO who suggested to me that it’s possible that the Windows 8 tablet could be the platform for their health systems mobile approach. Instead of creating one iPad app that had to integrate all of their health system applications, he saw a possibility that the Windows 8 tablet could be the base for a whole suite of individual applications that were deployed by the health system.

I could tell that this wasn’t a forgone conclusion, but I could see that this was one path that he was considering seriously when it came to how they’d approach mobile. I’m sure that many have counted out Microsoft in the tablet race. However, I think healthcare might be once place where the Windows 8 tablet takes hold.

When you think about the security needs of healthcare, many hospital IT professionals are familiar with windows security and so they’ll likely be more comfortable with Windows 8. Now we’ll just have to see if Windows 8 and the applications on top of it can deliver the iPad experience that changed tablets as we know them.

Sodium 101 Helps Combat Excessive Sodium Intake

Posted on March 14, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Whenever we go to the store, my husband meticulously analyzes the nutrition label on the food we buy, specifically looking at the amount of sodium in the product. While it makes shopping take a little longer, I’m glad he does it. Especially after reading this article about how studies are showing that too much salt may trigger certain autoimmune diseases.

But, it’s not always so easy to look at the labels. Yet keeping track of a person’s sodium intake is so important. The Mayo Clinic reports that Americans should have less than 2,300 mg a day (and under 1,500 mg if you are 51 or older,) and the average American gets around 3,400 mg each day. It definitely sounds like a problem to me.

So that’s where Sodium 101 comes in. This is an app created to combat the problem of too much sodium, and help people make healthier choices. It makes it easier to make low-sodium choices, especially when having take out. The app includes tons of features, such as:

  • Tracking sodium intake, specific for your age group
  • Track sodium in packaged food
  • View sodium content of takeout food
  • Listing of over 2,000 food items in popular takeout chains
  • A converter that helps calculate the amount of sodium in any product
  • Track progress
  • Share totals on social networks

Keep in mind, this is an app created in Canada, so not all the information will probably be fit for someone in the United States. However, I think that anyone could make some use of it.  I’m not sure why anyone would want to share their daily sodium totals on Facebook or Twitter, but to each his own I guess.

My sodium intake is actually something I’ve been trying to pay a lot closer attention to when I make meals for my family and me. This app could be really helpful for that, and helping me make better choices. The app has some great visuals though, and it looks nice.

It’s only available for iOS devices, but, it is free. Download it here.

T2 Mood Tracker Updated and Wins Award

Posted on February 28, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Several months ago, The Department of Defense released LifeArmor, an app created for military families coping with stress.  T2 Mood Tracker, released in 2010, was also created by a department in the Department of Defense. This app was created to help people, particularly those in the military, track their emotions over time and be able to use it to discuss with their healthcare provider. Although this app has been available for awhile, it recently had some updates.

The app was originally created for military personnel, but it has become very popular with people not in the military as well. It comes with six pre-loaded “issues” that can be tracked, though customized ones can be added as well. The six included are anxiety, depression, general well-being, head injury, post traumatic stress disorder, and stress. After selecting the issues, the user simply moves the slider to select which word describes them best at any point.

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After doing this, the app will automatically graph the results, and a user can also write down notes throughout the day, to give insight to why certain times were worse/better than other times.

With the recent update, users can do quite a few new things, which include:

  • PDF or CSV generated reports that can be printed or email for a provider
  • Data can be backed up to a phone’s SD card
  • Find psychological health support in your area
  • Set reminders to update moods
  • Results are shown in easy to read graphs

I really like this app, from what I’ve seen, and I think the updates make it even more user friendly, and helpful for those that are using it. I’m glad that it is now being encouraged for people in and outside of the military to use it as well.

This app also won first place in the general wellness category of the Apps4Army competition. It can be downloaded for Android and iOS devices, free of charge.

The Beam Toothbrush Transforms Dental Hygiene

Posted on February 27, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

A few years ago, an old roommate of mine informed me that I grind my teeth almost constantly as I slept. After talking with some people, I discovered that this, combined with some dental problems I encountered in high school, could be the underlying cause of many of my health problems. Primarily, migraines. Before that point, I didn’t realize just how much dental issues can affect other parts of the body.

So when I saw the Beam Toothbrush,  I was pretty excited. There’s so many devices out there to help improve people’s health, but I’ve never seen anything that really focuses on teeth brushing, which is essential for good health.

The Beam Toothbrush is a toothbrush that monitors oral hygiene, and sinks the data to a smart phone app. The app will then track the data for all activated brushes, create graphs with the data, and inform the user of certain things, like a missed brushing time. Each brush can only be assigned to one user, for obvious reasons, but several users can be tracked on the app.

From the looks of the website, and just the idea behind it, I think this is a toothbrush that is aimed toward children. It seems like a good way for parents to see if their child is really brushing their teeth. Because ask any parent — most kids aren’t the best brushers out there. I know I wasn’t.

I like the idea behind it, and I’ll be interested to see if it takes off at all. I’m not so sure I’d spend 49.99 on a toothbrush that wasn’t an electric one, especially for a child, but it might be an well-made investment for those who have children that forget to brush. Knowing that your parent has access to your teeth brushing “records” may be good motivation for some not to forget.

It comes in either blue or pink, and runs on AA batteries. It is a manual toothbrush, so it’s not going to be as fancy as ones like the Sonicare brand (which is what I use, and love), but it seems perfect for children. It is available for 49.99, and replacement heads are 3.99. Dentists and oral surgeons can also purchase them for resell. The app is only available on iOS systems.