Sneak peek: athenahealth’s iPhone app, iPad plans

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 23, 2012        

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Athenahealth iPhone appThese days most every EHR vendor has a smartphone app. Athenahealth has been one notable hold out, but that is set to change in the coming months.

At the HIMSS conference in Las Vegas, a demo at the athenahealth booth showed off the company’s plans for an iPhone and iPod Touch app that will gives its EHR users access to certain features of its athenaClinicals cloud-based platform. The company said it began developing the app late last year. The app is currently in “alpha,” but athena expects to release a beta version of the app in April and plans to invite more customers to test the software out then. A full launch of the athenahealth web-based mobile app is set for some time around June.

An Apple iPad version of the web-based athenahealth EHR app is also currently under development and set to launch in 2013. The iPad app will likely offer the full functionalities of the EHR, according to the company. The iPad version is intended for physicians who bring the device into the exam room with them.

Both mobile offerings will be freely accessible to existing athenahealth clinicals users and will not require any additional fees.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given athenahealth’s cloud-based offerings, neither app will be native to the iOS devices. Users will log in to access them through their iOS device browsers, just like they do from their desktops. The mobile apps offer the same security standards as athena net clients, according to the company. The app will also automatically log users out if they remain in active for a certain amount of time to prevent lost or stolen devices from leading to security breaches.

Company officials working at the athena booth at HIMSS said that the iPhone app is not meant to be a replacement for the desktop version. It’s just meant to help physicians have easier access for out of work activities.

The app includes access to patient cases, labs and images, urgent tasks, patient encounters, orders and e-prescribing, and more. When accessed via the mobile app, patient cases only show active allergies and current medications, users have to go to athena net to see a full history. Athena said its alpha testers find the ability to access their clinical inbox, which includes phone messages, lab results, and other documents physicians need to sign off on, as one of the most useful features.

One of the apps most recent additions enables users to refill patients’ medications and add new medication prescriptions. The app includes drug-to-drug alerts, drug-to-allergy alerts, and drug-to-problem alerts, too. Athena typically updates its software every four to six weeks so it expects the mobile app’s features to evolve quickly based on its users feedback.

So, why is athenahealth only now coming out with mobile versions of its cloud-based offerings? The company took its time to make sure the user interface worked for its users. iPad users will have to wait until 2013 for an athena user interface designed specifically for that platform, but until then there’s always Citrix.

MobiHealthNews’ coverage of the mHealth Summit is brought to you by IQMax.

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Epocrates unveils beta version of native iPad EHR app

By: Neil Versel | Feb 23, 2012        

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HIMSS EHR iPad infographic_EpocratesEpocrates is taking the occasion of HIMSS12, which has brought upwards of 35,000 people to Las Vegas this week, to debut a native iPad version of its ambulatory electronic health record.

“You just can’t take a desktop mentality and apply it to mobile,” Epocrates chief medical information officer Dr. Thomas Giannulli told MobiHealthNews in explaining why the San Mateo, Calif.-based vendor is doing more than just extending its Web-based or even iPhone software to meet the growing demand for iPad software from physicians.

Giannulli said he was aware of the failed experiment running a desktop EHR on iPads at Seattle Children’s Hospital last year. In that case, the hospital used the iPad’s Chrome browser essentially as a Citrix emulator, and the Cerner software was not optimized to display information on a 9.7-inch screen. (Cerner, like other enterprise systems vendors, is said to have a native iPad app in the works itself.) “You’ve got to get the software right,” he said.

The Epocrates iPad EHR, released in beta this week, is built to replicate the “rich data entry” of EHR drop-down menus that create documentation based on user clicks, Giannulli said, except that the iPad version uses screen touches instead of mouse clicks. The app takes advantage of the finger-swipe capabilities to “stack” elements of a patient’s record or a list of multiple patients for easier viewing.

This new product can link to the Epocrates software-as-a-service cloud in real time, or cache data locally. For the sake of security, users can only store EHR information on the iPad for a maximum of 449 patients, and any local data are encrypted and “extinguishes” after a set period of time if not uploaded to the Epocrates Web host, Giannulli explained. It saves and syncs automatically to the Web-based Epocrates EHR Web product, so doctors can edit entries on a computer with a real keyboard if they so choose.

Electronic prescribing and lab integration are built in. “We’re obviously going to leverage our Epocrates database when it comes to drugs,” Giannulli said. However, the beta release does not incorporate the Epocrates visual Pill ID feature yet. “We leverage the stuff that docs use most, which is the drug monographs,” he explained.

Though the iPad EHR can function as a standalone system, “It is probably an adjunct to the Web-based product,” according to Giannulli, primarily for use at the point of care.

For all the work Epocrates has done in mobility over the years, this actually is the first app the company has specifically designed for the iPad. An iPad app for the core Epocrates reference system is still in the works, Giannulli said.

MobiHealthNews’ coverage of HIMSS12 is brought to you by IQMax. Keep reading>>

Survey: 8 percent of hospitals fully support BYOD

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 23, 2012        

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israel ipadAbout 85 percent of healthcare information technology professionals said their hospitals have at least partially embraced the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend and supported the personal smartphones and tablets that their physicians and staff bring in from home, according to a survey recently conducted by Aruba Networks. The company surveyed more than 130 HIT professionals for its survey.

Among those that do support BYOD initiatives, Aruba found that 53 percent only support these devices by allowing them to access the Internet. Far fewer, just 24 percent, said they provided limited access to hospital applications. Just 8 percent said they currently enable full access to their hospital network for user-owned devices.

Aruba’s survey found that 83 percent of respondents support Apple iPads on their network, 65 percent support iPhones and iPod touches, 52 percent support BlackBerry devices, and 46 percent support Android tablets and phones. Also 58 percent either plan to or already use virtualization software like Citrix to give iPad users remote access to hospital applications.

“The responses in this year’s healthcare mobility survey align well with what we are seeing in the field,” Gerard Festa, director of healthcare solutions at Aruba, stated in a press release. “While there is a lot of interest in BYOD and enabling mobility for applications hospital- or group-wide, most have just begun taking the first steps. We are confident that the percentage of hospitals fully embracing mobility will increase over the next year, with mobile application and device use becoming the norm within the next five years.”

MobiHealthNews’ coverage of HIMSS12 is brought to you by IQMax.

For more on the Aruba survey, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

By 2017: 170M wearable wireless health and fitness devices

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 23, 2012        

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Nike+ Fuel BandIn five years the number of wearable wireless health and fitness devices will hit 169.5 million, according to a report from ABI Research. That’s up from almost 21 million such devices last year. By 2017 the number of sports and fitness focused wearable wireless devices will still outnumber more health-focused ones, but not by much. ABI expects about 90 million wearable fitness devices to be in the market five years from now, which leaves about 80 million health-focused ones.

The research firm partially attributes the predicted rise in the number of wearable fitness devices to the increasing number of mobile handset vendors, consumer electronics companies, and online service providers who have joined the market in recent months. ABI points to Nike, Adidas, and Motorola as some of the more high-profile examples. For many years the market has been dominated by “specialist, high-end vendors” like Polar and Garmin.

ABI also expects strong growth for home monitoring devices intended for assisted living applications as well as wearable devices that help people better manage their chronic conditions. The health wearables will also become more prevalent within hospitals and clinics, according to ABI.

“Leveraging mobile handsets to provide automated online data access opens up the wearable wireless market to real-time online connectivity. Although not the only option, standardization around Bluetooth Smart will be the bedrock of this market growth. A whole host of companies in the sports and medical device market, as well as online services companies, are going to have to add or extend their offerings and services to support a new wave of wearable sensor connectivity,” ABI principal analyst Jonathan Collins stated in the press release.

For more details, read the press release below: Keep reading>>

Physician messaging startup DocBookMD nets $2.2M

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 22, 2012        

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DocBookMD AppAt the beginning of the month DocBookMD announced a $2.2 million seed round of funding from a handful of private investors from the healthcare industry. DocBookMD offers a HIPAA-compliant platform for doctors to exchange texts, photos, charts, x-rays and similar information.

About 6,500 physicians now use the app, according to a report over at MedCityNews.

While the company did not specifically list out its investors, Dr. Matt Rogers, a cardiologist based in Austin and DocBookMD board member, was noted as one. The company’s advisory board also includes business school professor James Nolen from The University of Texas, Mike Betzer, the CEO of Social Dynamx, and RJ Brideau, the SVP of Sales at ReachForce.

DocBookMD was founded by husband and wife practicing physicians: Dr. Tim Gueramy, an orthopedic surgeon, and Dr. Trace Haas, a family physician. Gueramy is CEO of the company while Haas serves as the Chief Medical Officer.

DocBookMD makes its app available to more than 80 different physicians association groups. The app was available to about 100,000 physicians as of December 2011, according to the company. At the beginning of February 2012, DocBookMD claimed that its app has experienced 20 percent growth in users month over month. The app is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android phones.

DocBookMD expects to connect the app to electronic medical records (EMRs) in the near future, according to MedCityNews. The company’s current business model is to work with medical liability companies as sponsors, according to the report.

More in DocBookMD’s press release below:

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UK to encourage doctors to prescribe health apps

By: Brian Dolan | Feb 22, 2012        

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NHSIn an effort to cut down on unnecessary doctor office visits, the UK’s Department of Health plans to ask general practitioners and physicians working at hospitals across the country to encourage their patients to use mobile health apps to track biometrics and symptoms. According to various reports in local newspapers, the Department of Health claims that some 15,000 NHS patients are already using mobile health apps that transmit such information to their physicians. The apps are used by pregnant women, and people with cancer, diabetes, heart problems, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The information transmitted from patients using the apps will be monitored by healthcare providers who will urge patients to visit their doctor or nurses immediately if an abnormal reading comes in, according to a report in the DailyMail. The Department of Health hopes to save the NHS “millions of pounds” assuming the apps help cut down on unnecessary visits. Health ministers also contend that more frequent monitoring will help providers keep tabs on patients so that their condition, which will make it less likely that their condition’s will suddenly deteriorate and require a trip to the emergency room.

According to a report in the Telegraph, the health minister claim that about 25 percent of the people who use the NHS Choices website and app visit their physicians less frequently as a result. In November the NHS Direct app announced more than 1 million downloads.

“So many people use apps every day to keep up with their friends, with the news, find out when the next bus will turn up or which train to catch,” the UK Department of Health’s Secretary Andrew Lansley said in a statement. “I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm. With more information at their fingertips, patients can truly be in the driving seat.”

Lansley assembled a list of 500 apps and tools that the NHS plans to recommend physicians prescribe to patients, but the NHS is looking to hear feedback from the UK public on which apps they think should be included. The government said the apps should be free or cheap to use, according to the Telegraph report. Keep reading>>