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By Abder-Rahman Ali

The Growing World of Mobile Electronic Health Records

By Abder-Rahman Ali

Continuing my series on Mobile Healthcare, which began with "How Mobile Technology Is Changing Healthcare", this article discusses the increased usage of mobile electronic health records (EHRs) by medical practitioners.

In their recent survey, Black Book revealed that 70% of clinicians indicated their willing to use mobile Electronic Health Records (EHRs) devices and software by the end of 2015.

What were the main outcomes of the survey?

The survey had some interesting outcomes.

52% of practice physicians currently access patient records and/or reference data from a mobile device. Only 31% of physicians utilize smart phones as part of their individual patient management strategies.

Emergency physicians, radiologists, OB/GYN, general surgeons and orthopedic surgeons were among the specialists with the highest use of mobile devices as part of their patient management routine

Based on the aggregate client experience and customer satisfaction scores on eighteen key performance indicators, the top-ranked virtualized and mobile electronic health records application vendor for 2015 is drchrono. This is the third consecutive year drchrono has ranked first among physician practices in mobile EHR and earlier this year, drchrono ranked among the top five EHRs for small and independent practices across all medical and surgical specialties.

In addition to drchrono, the following mobile EHR application firms were top performing in the Black Book Market Research 2015 user poll: HealthFusion, Greenway, Cerner, Allscripts, athenahealth, PracticeFusion, iPatientCare, Kareo, and ADP AdvancedMD.

Mentioning mobile EHR products, this is what Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book Market Research, had to say:

"As the transition to mobile devices has been rapidly occurring over the past five years, progressive EHR vendors have responded with clear plans and successful products to help expand the user experience. With more than half of physicians currently using a mobile device in their medical practices, these EHR vendors are allowing providers to choose which platform best fits in to their workflow in multiple healthcare delivery settings including highly usable mobile products."

How are practitioners using mobile EHR apps?

As a developer with an interest in such apps, you may be wondering what functions they need to have. What tasks can practitioners achieve through using such apps?

In this section, I will show examples of functionality provided by different mobile health apps.

ADP AdvancedMD enables the practitioner to access and review their schedule, access/review/edit patient charts and have real-time access to messages and any tasks that require your attention.

Practice fusion enables practitioners to review notes, approve results, check schedules, send e-prescriptions, view lab results and create orders.

Finally, drchrono allows scheduling appointments for an individual doctor or for an entire practice, customize medical forms for your speciality, utilize features such as free draw and speech-to-text input notes and send prescriptions, lab orders, and doctor referrals.

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Securing EHR records on mobile devices

As discussed in my article, "Apple Watch Is Improving Health. Does This Come With a Price?", security remains an issue in the mobile health world.

As Jonah Comstock states, The National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE), a division of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has released a five-part draft guidance on cybersecurity for mobile devices that connect to electronic health records.

"The NCCoE was established specifically to help organizations solve real-world challenges, and this was one of particular concern to the health care community," NCCoE Director Donna Dodson said in a statement. "This guide can help providers protect critical patient information without getting in the way of delivering quality care."

Donna Dodson also mentions:

"We know from working with them that health care organizations want to protect their clients' personal information and themselves from the high costs associated with breaches. This guide can be an important tool among the many they use to reduce risk."

As mentioned in this article by Neil Versel, NCCoE is taking public comments on the draft until September 25th at this link, or by e-mail to HIT_NCCoE{at}nist.gov.

Conclusion

Physicians are increasingly moving towards mobile devices for accessing electronic health records. This increasing use of mobile devices should raise an awareness on the increasing demand of mobile EHR apps, which can be a good investment for new startups.

We can get a sense of this from Anthony Vecchione's interesting article, 9 Mobile EHRs Fight For Doctors' Attention.

Notice the terms fight and attention in the title. Fight could imply the demand of such applications and attention the need for a good user experience (UX) in such applications. I wrote an article about the impact UX can have on our health in "When UX Hurts And Even Kills".

Why do you think physicians are moving towards mobile devices in managing patient data? Or are the EHR systems installed on their desktop machines enough?

Are we moving to an era where pieces of patient information are increasingly recorded, and this is why physicians are preferring mobile devices since they are more handy? Does this distract the physician from their main role of dealing with the patient's concerns?

If you were to build a mobile EHR, what are the main concerns you would care about (i.e. usability, security)?

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