GE backs native apps with iPad EMR

Does it make more sense to develop or buy native apps for mobile devices like the iPad, or just enable your existing software to run on a mobile platform? Hospital CIOs may be arguing this question nationwide, with no clear consensus yet, but electronics giant GE Healthcare came down firmly on the side of native apps with the recent launch of its Centricity Advance Mobile for the iPad.

Touting its product as the only electronic medical record system specifically designed to run on the iPad, GE is betting that native apps will have more appeal for the growing cadre of physicians using the Apple platform.

The reason: Native apps are designed to take advantage of all the functionality of a particular device, explains Todd Richardson, CIO of Evansville, Ind.-based Deaconess Health System. Interestingly, FierceMobileHealthcare talked with Richardson a few weeks ago about his generally device-agnostic philosophy. He prefers to run a standard EMR that's enabled for a variety of hardware options. It can be a bit clunky, he noted, but gets the job done without a great deal of additional development.

He admitted, however, that for many users, the native app will be easier to navigate. GE officials said as much when they announced development on the mobile version earlier this spring. The EMR takes advantage of the iPad's navigation capabilities, such as flicking through the application and zooming in on areas of the screen.

Where GE may be misstepping, though, is that it doesn't have any plans to develop the EMR for other platforms like Blackberry's Playbook or the Android Tablet, according to InformationWeek Healthcare. It's true that the iPad appears the tablet of choice for a majority of doctors now, but that could always change.

And given that Centricity's audience is small physician practices, being married to a single platform may not make sense, according to Richardson. Small practices frequently consolidate with larger groups or hospitals, and if their core platform isn't the iPad, it could be an expensive merger.

To learn more:
- read InformationWeek Healthcare's story
- check out this Healthcare IT News piece from February