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Physicians Like EMR-Connected Apps

A new survey by vendor eClinicalWorks has concluded that the vast majority of physicians like EMR-connected apps, and many cases, believe that apps can improve patient care.

Of course, the research is a bit self-serving. The study announcement comes alongside news that the company plans to invest $25 million on patient engagement tools over the next 12 months, starting with a free mobile app for patients available on iOS and Android. Still, it’s worth a look anyway.

The study, conducted online, collected responses from 2,291 healthcare professionals in mid-January, reports SearchHealthIT.com.  Of that total, 649 respondents were physicians.

Researchers found that nearly all doctors responding (93 percent) think it’s valuable to have a mobile health app connected to an EMR, the site reports.  The same number of doctors said that mobile health apps can improve a patient’s health outcome, and 80 percent said they were likely to recommend a mobile health app to a patient.

So what do physicians hope to gain from such apps, specifically?  According to SearchHealthIT.com:

* 58 percent of physicians were particularly interested in the ability to provider automatic appointment alerts and reminders. (Six out of ten physicians said that at least half their patients would like getting appointment reminders from an app, too.)
* Almost half of doctors felt giving patients access to their medical records was a key benefit
* Many suggested that using apps to make appointment scheduling easier would be very helpful

The study also concluded that apps could help with patient wellness. Sixty-five percent said they could improve medication adherence, 54 percent diabetes care and 52 percent preventative care, the site reported.

February 18, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies.

Connecting Mobile With Desktop A Chore

Readers, I’m guessing  you’ve seen the same stats I have, which suggest that doctors are crazy about tablet use, as well as smartphones.  And we’d probably all agree that using both for clinical tasks makes sense in a lot of environments.

The thing is, few doctors are actually using these devices in day to day practice management, according to a recent study.  A survey of 1,190 physicians published in June found that 75 percent of doctors use their desktop for practice management tasks, according to American Medical News.  The study was published by little blue book directory and its parent company Sharecare.

Truthfully, doctors have a perfectly reasonable motive for doing so: they need the greater power and larger screens desktop computers provide. Not only that, they get to use their hospitals’ EMR in its original form, rather than through a Citrix or other client awkwardly shoehorned onto an iPad or Android tablet.

So, what to do to make the transition between these devices more seamless — and mobile devices better integrated into the mix? In a piece by Healthcare IT News‘ Michelle McNickle, whose work, like John, I’m beginning to find addicting, chief scientist at M.Modal Juergen Fritsch outlines some key steps in bridging the “mobile-desktop divide.” Here’s a few ideas on what needs fixing:

Inadequate apps:  Many of the apps physicians use most often aren’t available for tablets or the iPhone. Workarounds exist, but they’re crude.

Speech recognition is critical:  Doctors are already used to dictating into cellphones to do clinical documentation, so making tablets documentation friendly is very important.

Create a hybrid strategy: Don’t demand that physicians go all-mobile in one swoop, Fritsch suggests. Combine multiple devices and make the experience as similar as possible from device to device.

Educate doctors on the latest offerings:  Doctors who used the initial round of apps and interfaces on mobile devices were probably irritated, as they were fairly cumbersome. CIOs and CMOs should make sure they educate physicians on current offerings, which will probably appeal to them much more.

To put in my own quibble, my sense from researching the matter is that the biggest force holding back mobile use is simply getting EMR vendors to create native clients for tablets and phones. Even if they’re not fully-featured, they should at least be cleanly usable.  What do you think?

July 31, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies.

Centricity Gets FDA 510(k) Clearance for Mobile Radiology App

There’s lots of interesting things doctors can do when they can access medical data on the road — and the number of options has increased rapidly over the past year or two. Until recently, though, mobile imaging apps were uncommon, for reasons that had as much to do with corporate inertia as technology.

Now, the FDA has approved another such app,  Centricity Radiology Mobile Access 2.0, for DiagnosticCT and MR Image Review. Centricity Radiology Mobile is one of the  first radiology apps to get FDA (510k) clearance. (According to mobihealthnews.com, the first radiology app to get FDA clearance was Mobile MIM, which was cleared in February.)

The newly-approved app, which  available for Android and iOS devices, comes on the heels of GE’s release of the Centricity Advance Mobile app. Centricity Advance Mobile, released this summer, is an iPad EMR app aimed at small-practice primary care docs.

Not surprisingly, Centricity Radiology Mobile works hand in glove with the Centricity PACS system, which stores one-fifth of U.S. radiology exams according to the vendor.

The app’s design makes it practical to view even complex, large images, something that’s held back remote radiology image use. And it’s a commonsense fix. Rather than fill up the mobile device’s data storage device, he system allows users to browse images remotely without having to download the data onto their phones.

Having cleared apps like these is likely to give Centricity a new edge, as few EMR vendors have gotten to this point. While Centricity has the good luck to be part of GE,  a major medical device maker thoroughly familiar with FDA regs, few of its competitors will know how to work with FDA reps or how to keep the process moving. For now, smaller EMR  vendors with no FDA clout may simply be left behind (which is something of a shame, but that’s another story).

Rest assured that we’ll be grilling EMR vendors at the upcoming mHealth Summit (Dec. 5 to Dec. 7) about their plans for new mobile apps.  We’ll let you know what we find out.

December 2, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke 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.