Apple’s iPad is making rounds in healthcare. Its ergonomic design, long battery life, and beautiful user interface (UI) gives other tablets a run for their money. Several reports indicate that the iPad is growing in popularity among physicians. As a result, more and more electronic medical record (EMR) and electronic health record (EHR) vendors are releasing iPad-specific versions of their EMRs. Some offer native iPad EMRs; others offer web-browser access through the iPad. However, there is no perfect iPad EMR solution. Each type of deployment has it benefits and drawbacks. In this guide we review the three main iPad EMR options:

  • Web-based EMRs. These systems are used through a web browser, and can therefore be accessed using the iPad’s Safari browser. They are great for many reasons.
  • Remote access EMRs. Most client/server, on-premise EMRs can be accessed from a remote system, including iPads, through utilities like Citrix. This isn’t ideal, but it works.
  • Native iPad EMRs. These are probably what you want most – a slick app developed just for the iPad – but the options are very limited so far. You might have to wait.

Let’s take a look at iPad and iPad 2 offerings from the top ten EMR software vendors (based on market share). You’ll see that few of them offer native iPad apps yet; most are offering remote access solutions.

Vendor Comments
Allscripts(Allscripts Remote) Allscripts allows users to remotely connect to the EMR through the iPad. It is delivered through Allscripts’ proprietary web services technology, UAI.
eClinicalWorks (iClickDoc) eClinicalWorks hasn’t officially released an app, but easeMD, an eClincialWorks reseller, has. It’s not a native app; users access it through a remote desktop application.
Eclipsys(Sunrise Mobile MD) Now a part of Allscripts, Sunrise Mobile MD from Eclipsys, provides access to the Sunrise hospital EHR.
Epic(Canto) Very little information is available about Epic’s Canto app. We were only able to find a short description in iTunes.
GE Centricity At HIMSS11, GE announced the development of iPad apps for Centricity Advance and Centricity Practice Solution. Few details are available at this time, but the apps are said to be released later this year.
Greenway Medical(PrimeMobile) This app provides complete, remote access to Greenway PrimeSUITE EHR. It appears to be a very credible native app for the iPhone and iPad.
NextGen(NextGen Mobile) Blogger Brian Ahier has posted a video introduction of the NextGen Mobile app. It works on all Apple devices, as well as the Blackberry, and several Android devices.
Practice Fusion Practice Fusion can be accessed remotely using the third-party app, LogMeIn.
Sage Intergy Sage hasn’t released specific information about iPad and iPhone support, but they do offer remote access for the Intergy EHR. So, physicians will be able to access Intergy from their iPad if configured properly.
SOAPware SOAPware can be accessed remotely via an iPhone or iPad by downloading Jaadu or the LogMeIn app.

Web-based EMRs

Until more native iPad EMRs hit the market, we think physicians are best off using web-based EMRs. There are a number of viable web-based systems on the market, so physicians will be able to find one that has capabilities for their size and type of practice (e.g. WebPT for physical therapists). Additionally, many web-based EMR vendors have received ONC-ATCB certification. This is a requirement for doctors that want to receive HITECH Act funds.

Vendor Comments
MediTouch MediTouch from HealthFusion was the first web-based, iPad-native EHR with ONC-ATCB certification on the market.
iChartsMD iChartsMD is a web-based, ONC-ATCB certified EHR. It can be used on mobile phones and tablet devices. They currently offer a free iPad 2 and Mobile Hotspot with every license.
iPatientCare Medical Communication Systems offers a mobile version of its EHR aptly titled, “iPatientCare Mobile.” It can be used on the iPhone, iPad and other tablet PC or mobile devices.
NueMD Web-based, ONC-ATCB certified and supports both Windows and Apple devices.
WebChart Designed specifically for cardiologists. This ONC-ATCB certified EMR can be accessed over iPhones, iPads or other smart phones.

EMRs with Remote Access

As noted in our table above, several leading vendors offer remote access to their EMR. Using this deployment model, your EMR runs on a server (likely in your IT closet), but is remotely displayed on the iPad over a network. There isn’t really an EMR application running on the iPad. Instead, the remote access application is allowing you to view the application as if you were at a desktop or laptop. This approach will allow you to access Allscripts, GE Centricity, or any other number of major EMR systems. However, you’ll be seeing the usual Windows UI, not an iPad interface. This means you’re not taking full advantage of the iPad’s slick UI (the reason you bought the iPad to begin with). It’s a little kludgy, but it works.

Native iPad EMRs

The third option is to purchase a native iPad EMR app. So far we’ve identified just six: Dr. Chrono, Nimble, Mediforms, MediMobile, IQMax, and Capzule EMR. Dr. Chrono and Nimble are the most impressive (and attractive). They do the kind of stuff the iPad was designed to do. For example, Nimble has an application called “Medical Art.” It allows doctors to view and mark up images (e.g. X-Rays, EKGs, and anatomical diagrams) with the swipe of a finger. It’s a great tool for educating patients and communicating diagnoses. Meanwhile, Dr. Chrono has a slick ePrescribing feature. Through a series of single screen-taps, doctors can pull up patient charts, view a list of common prescriptions (or perform a search for others), and send prescriptions to patients’ preferred pharmacies, all without leaving the exam room.

Unfortunately, native iPad EMRs have drawbacks too. Many have limited functionality. Physicians can perform basic tasks such as capture billing charges, view a patient record, or track patient schedules. But, they don’t offer a complete set of features that other web-based and on-premise EMRs offer. This is mostly due to the fact that these apps are new to the market. It took years, even decades, for the leading EMRs to offer the depth of functionality they now offer. iPad app start-ups aren’t going to catch up any time soon.

Do you have experience using an EMR on an iPad? Do you know any others we should include above? Let’s get a discussion going in the comments section below.

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