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Apple iPad Helps Ease EMR Concerns

ClearPractice's Nimble e-health record product running on the iPad has convinced some nervous doctors that digital charts aren't so bad after all.

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The iPad in healthcare has a lot of potential to be a preferred device for clinical applications, including e-health records. Not only is the device mobile and affordable, its ease of use could be just the thing to hook physicians who are otherwise scared of trading in their paper charts for digital records.

At least that's the thinking of Joel Andersen, president of ClearPractice, a vendor that offers web-based, software-as-a-service e-medical record, e-prescribing and practice management applications for physician practices that have 10 or fewer clinicians.

Last month, the company introduced its newest offering, Nimble, an EMR for the iPad.

ClearPractice spent a good amount of time working with Apple to fine-tune Nimble, an EMR "built for the iPad," Andersen said. Nimble is a "native" iPad app, taking full advantage of the iPad's iOS and user friendliness," he said. While there are other EMRs that run on the iPad, Nimble is the industry's first "native" EMR for the device, he said.

The product connects to ClearPractice's cloud environment via Wi-Fi or 3G. No patient data is stored on the iPad itself. The software also supports the health industry's Continuity of Care Record and Continuity of Care Document standards, "which enable meaningful and secure exchange of patient information between Nimble and other EMR systems, hospitals, and health information exchanges," said Andersen.

Since Nimble is not a point-and-click EMR that's been simply been moved to run on an iPad environment, the software provides "faster and more responsive performance," not to mention the ability of" flipping, scrolling, sizing, drawing and more," he said. "Our primary goal was to ensure that doctors could effectively use the system in front of the patient in the exam room," Andersen said. "In order for the doctor to interact with the patient and the app in tandem it had to be simplified."

Unlike EMRs running on laptops or desktops, Nimble "liberates doctors from the mouse, keyboard and monitor," Andersen said.

For some physicians who are using Nimble, the comfort level in taking an iPad into patient rooms is a big plus.

Having a small office, there's no space for a desktop in the exam rooms, so prior to recently using Nimble on the iPad, Dr. Lianna Lawson, a solo-practitioner, wheeled a laptop on cart to exam rooms.

"Laptops on carts -- I don't like that, it seems impersonal," said Lawson, whose practice, Lawson Family Medicine and Aesthetics is based in Daleville, VA. Lawson has been using ClearPractice's web-based EMR on a laptop for about a year. Lawson added Nimble to her practice in September.

Nimble running on the iPad, "has the feel of a [paper] chart," Lawson. "Many doctors are traditionalists, so the comfort level with technology is difficult," she said. "But for physicians not particularly tech savvy or reluctant of about how they'll meet the meaningful use requirements, this gives a little more comfort and confidence," she said.

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