EMRs go mobile: Not to be ignored

Although accessibility of electronic medical records (EMR) on tablet devices is nothing new (we've been reporting on such capabilities as far back as April 2010), that doesn't make recent announcements from drchrono, Epocrates, GE, Greenway Medical Technologies and SAP about their mobile EMR offerings any less important. Rather, it reaffirms the notion that mobility in healthcare is king, something all current and future EMR vendors would be wise to take note of.

The users, doctors and other medical professionals, are flocking to the iPad and devices like it in droves. In May, Manhattan Research concluded that 75 percent of U.S. physicians owned an Apple mobile device in one form or another.

More recently, the medical schools at Ivy League heavyweights Harvard and Yale each announced its own mobility news. Harvard is creating a set of apps specifically for med students, and Yale has handed out 520 iPads to its students.

The smart move would be to go to where users already are headed.

"I would call this a perfect storm for medicine," Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO Dr. John Halamka said in a CNBC interview earlier this year. "You have alignment of funding, a cultural change where doctors want to use devices to improve quality. You also have new devices and new software that is much easier to use."

Halamka's final point about ease of use is one that should not go unnoticed. In fact, a report in May from Kalorama Information determined that long-term growth of EMR technology hinges on the introduction of more user-friendly systems. Although the report focuses on prompting vendors to improve on repetitive, cumbersome processes, it doesn't specifically mention mobility in terms of ease of use. However, making sure a physician can get patient data anytime, anywhere sure seems like it would fall under the category of "user-friendly" improvements.

"There haven't been a lot of physician user surveys, but one of the things that's clear from the few association surveys is that there is no significant loyalty right now to any one EMR program," Kalorama Publisher Bruce Carlson said in a statement touting the report. "That's an opportunity we think won't be missed by the industry in their future versions."

Ensuring mobility for such programs deserves the same regard. - Dan (@FierceHealthIT)