EHRs go mobile – The iPad effect

Solo family-medicine physician Jeffrey Gladd of Fort Wayne, Ind., can’t wait until his EHR vendor unveils an iPad-ready version. Though he uses a Wi-Fi-ready MacBook Air laptop, “I’d much rather have a mobile EHR on an iPad so I can quickly, if I’m outside the office, access those charts,” Gladd says.

“When Hello Health comes out with an iPad EHR application, I’ll just be able to turn on my iPad and do all of my EHR functions in one convenient location, instead of taking the steps right now it takes to get onto the electronic health record. When I’ve got a full EHR on the iPad, I’ll cut down on two steps and only carry one device.” (The iPad version had not yet been released at this writing, but was due soon.) But while Gladd already had his EHR before his vendor announced it would offer a mobile EHR iPad application to accompany it, the growing number of iPad-loving physicians like Gladd makes one wonder whether the sheer existence of Apple’s popular media tablet has, to some extent, prompted physicians to purchase EHRs when they otherwise wouldn’t have.

After all, many doctors use their iPads in a way they never used their mobile phones — as light but robust electronic companions that go from home to exam room to dinner at a restaurant. Armed with the 1.3-pound iPad, a physician can do everything from touch-typing patient notes to looking up patient charts much more easily than she could with a smaller-screened smartphone. For this reason, Steven Ferguson, patient management officer for EHR vendor Hello Health, says the iPad could be the magic device that gets some physicians EHR-ready. “Before the introduction of the iPad, I was rather skeptical about the viability of a mobile EHR,” says Ferguson. “But now that the third real version of the iPad is out, the user experience is through the roof.”

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