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 HITECH Act's incentive programs can mean financial rewards of up to $44,000 for Medicare docs and $64,000 for Medicaid physicians who comply with the federal government's "meaningful use" criteria before 2014. But for some doctors, the idea of swapping decade's worth of paper-based work habits for digital records is overwhelming. Having an intuitive software option on the iPad could help make the transition easier for some of those docs.

Now Lawson said she brings the iPad with her wherever she goes, responding to patients "24 by 7," when they have questions over weekends, or other after-hour concerns. In the office, she can use Nimble "while scooting around" in her exam rooms caring for patients.

There's been other surprise perks to using the iPad-based product, namely engaging patients while using the EMR, she said. "I didn't expect this to be the result, but patients can see" and talk about what's on the EMR as she uses the iPad near them. The interactions can help in building a more solid dialogue between physician and patient -- and can even help make records more accurate.

While Lawson was using the iPad during a patient exam recently, the patient saw that an entry on the list of medications in her health record was incorrect, and the patient reminded Lawson that she was no longer taking a particular drug. Lawson updated the information.

Using a laptop while trying to engage patients like that isn't as simple, Lawson said. "A laptop's not easy to pull along" to where the patient can participate and see the information, she said.

Another plus with the iPad and Nimble is the ability to show patients diagrams of body parts, so that physicians can more easily explain to patients, for instance, the organs involved with disease or other medical problems, she said.

"In healthcare, the tablet PC was supposed to be the device of choice, but it fizzled," said Andersen.

"I think the iPad, like the iPod for MP3 players, will take over as the device of choice for healthcare," Andersen said. "The iPad is transformative device in healthcare," he said.

ClearPractice is offering Nimble free to subscribers of the company's comprehensive clinical software and practice management offerings, which are priced starting at $399 per month.

Also, as part of a limited time introductory promotion, ClearPractice is providing doctors who subscribe to its SaaS EMR with a free iPad and copy of Nimble.

ClearPractice is a division of Essence Group Holdings Corp., whose main shareholder is John Doerr, partner of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. EGHC's other two other health companies are Essence Healthcare, a Medicare Advantage insurance company and Lumeris, a data analytics firm.

As for Dr. Lawson, the only drawback so far with using Nimble on the iPad is that she can't print out documents. "I still have to use the laptop to print," she said.

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