Partners' mEHR app improves workflow, communication with patients

Boston-based Partners HealthCare kicked its mobile strategy into high gear this week, launching an app for its electronic health record, and setting its sights on mobile radiology next.

The healthcare system announced Tuesday that it had completed a light-speed pilot/rollout of only 90 days. Already more than 2,000 clinicians are using the new app, and it's having a "positive impact on workflow" for most, John Pappas, Partners' associate director of clinical systems integration, said in an announcement.

"Instead of finding a workstation, logging in, accessing the patient record and then going to see a patient, they can just pull the iPhone from a pocket and review results at the bedside while they're talking to the patient," he said. "And, they can check on the latest information-test results, for example-at any time from any location."

But it's not just physicians who want that bedside review, Robert Havasy, project specialist for Partners' Center for Connected Health told FierceMobileHealthcare. Patients, too, are eager for hospitals to get their mobile initiatives underway.

"Focus group after focus group of patients tell us that this is the way they expect to interact with their physicians," Havasy said. "They bank online, they text their family and friends, and they expect the same systems to work in medicine. It's the way everything is moving."

On the back-end of the project, it was a "presentation layer" that helped get the EHR onto mobile devices, Pappas said. It solved the biggest difficulty with mobile-enabling the EHR, putting a PC's worth of patient data onto the far smaller smartphone or tablet screen.

"We initially developed the presentation layer for the iPhone. The fact that they're encrypted devices and were being used by many physicians made them a logical choice for the initial rollout," Pappas said. They've since extended the app to Blackberry and iPad platforms.

One interesting note: Partners chose not to provide mobile devices to its staff, instead allowing them to use their personal devices to access the EHR. It means the IT department has less control, but it seems the project's speed simply didn't allow time for researching, vetting, buying and enabling a host of company-owned devices.

"There is definitely a growing demand for new mobile apps, as well as additions to the mEHR," Pappas said. "We're getting requests from business units and clinical groups throughout the organization."

One of the squeaky-wheel business units must be radiology because that's next on Partners' mobile priority list, hospital officials note. The radiology imaging initially will be available only on the iPad, but eventually will be enabled for Android devices, as well. 

To learn more:
- check out the Partners' press release
- read more at HealthcareIT News