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SmartPhone Interfaces for EHRs

October 15, 2009 1 comment

Smartphone interfaces for EHRs will one day outstrip use of Tablets or Laptops or Desktops when it comes to using them!

SmartPhones are the most convenient devices when it comes to doing things at the “Point of Action”.  In individual Physician Practices, Smart Phone interfaces may not be needed as much as they are needed in Hospitals and Emergency Rooms.

In some hospitals, they have been using desktops or laptops mounted on litle desks with wheels to be wheeled along or set in a corner. They are tethered to the Hospital backend systems with Wireless or Wired connections.  They seem clunky and inconvenient to use but never the less seem to be used.

Tablets or Laptops may be convenient also but not as convenient as a small form factor computer like an iPhone, iPodTouch, BlackBerry or Android phone! These are especially handy when used in Emergency situations like in an ambulance while taking in vitals and other readings and sending them ahead to the hospital emergency room. This can enable the hospital to be ready for the patient and speed up a lot of communication that happens only when the ambulance arrives at the hospital.

Even in the Hospital in-Patient rooms or the Operating Room, SmartPhones are easier to deal with than a laptop or a desktop even with wireless connectivity.

The problem with EHR SmartPhone interfaces is to come up with natural, easy to use interfaces. With a small form factor it is quite a task to fit a lot of what goes into an EHR interface into such a small space. Even with large LCD screens EHR interfaces take up a lot of the screen real-estate. Compressing a lot of that into a small screen like that of a smart phone is quite a task!

Quite a challenge but very useful if someone does it!

The Pitfalls of Overblown EHR Expectations!

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Talking to someone very experienced with EHR rollouts, especially with Small and Medium Sized Physician practices, I got a very pessimistic view of what might happen to EHR Adoption. He thought  in such practices it would not be that great, ARRA Stimulus payments not withstanding!

Having gone through many hype cycles like Year 2000, Artificial Intelligence, Dot Com, etc I am a bit jaded when everyone is optimistic! That’s the time you need to break out your cynical evaluation of what’s being said. That’s the time everyone starts believing their own Kool-Aid when some level of skepticism is healthy and good.

During the Dot com boom, everybody had bought into the idea that Brick and Mortar stores were dead and every business in the world would be done online!

Did not happen that way; even though some things changed many things still remained the same. Of course, there were hundreds of businesses that changed for ever and online shopping is here to stay.

Something similar is likely to happen in the EHR adoption space also, most likely! Physician practices that were anyway postively inclined to automate their Health Records will go at full speed, Stimulus Payments or not, if they have not already! There will be many that will try it without a lot of planning and thought and fail as a result. This may be as much as these practices not being fully prepared with the right expectations of cost and time to successful implementation as the quality of people doing the implementation.

The Dot com boom attracted to technology, people who did not have any business doing technology just because of the demand for such people. The same may happen in 2010 and 2011 with great demand for people with EHR experience or NOT! This is where many things can go wrong and Physician practices may become even more jaded than now.

However, over the long run they will see success but it will be a quick upward curve in demand and adoption followed by a quick fall and then a gradual rise!

Electronic Health Records will buy all stakeholders incredible ROI but they may not see it immediately! That’s where discontentand disillusionment may set in. Hope it’s a short phase.

Role of Small Form Factor Devices Underestimated Today!

September 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Many EHR adoption failures can be laid at the feet of User Interfaces at the Point Of Care. Many physicians and nurses never get used to doing their work somewhat differently from the way it was done before with pen and paper!

I was a member of Kaiser Permanente, before EHR rollout and after EHR rollout! Forget the caregivers, I was very disturbed as a patient when my Physician kept turning away from me every two minutes to type something into the EHR on the desktop that was suspended from the ceiling! I can understand how the Physician can feel that this has changed the way they deliver medical care!

This is where small form factor devices could come in handy and could solve some of these problems but they are totally underestimated today!

Devices like the iPhone and iPod Touch are very easy and natural for physicians and nurses to use and it’s only a matter of time before these devices take over a lot of the EHR functions piece by piece!

If you are a nurse taking a patient’s vitals you just need that screen where you type in the details and record them. You don’t need the whole kit and kaboodle of the EHR user interface!

iPhones, iPodTouches and other SmartPhones may already be replacing pagers in healthcare! With processors becoming faster, these devices becoming less expensive, it’s only a matter of time that they get adopted quickly!

If these are woefully inadequate, there are always these rumors of a midsize iTablet device from Apple! 

Small form factor devices are coming! Good EHR software vendors seem to be working on these small form device interfaces already!