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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!

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Want Preventive Healthcare? EHR is needed first!

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Today I had my Flu Shots done at Kaiser Permanente’s facility here in the Bay Area.

There was a line that was 200 long but they had 7 or 8 nurses doing the flu shots and the line was moving fairly quickly.

But the amazing thing that was made possible, courtesy of Electronic Health Records was what happened at the end of the line after you had your flu shots. They did a quick scan of your membership card and checked on outstanding or overdue health checks. In my case, they found that a test for Colon Cancer was not done and so they set it up with thier lab to have it done immediately!

All of this was made possible, only because my health records were electronic and they were able to see what was overdue for my preventive care with a swipe of a card. As long as I was there for the flu shot, they could as well have me do my preventive health checks also!

I cannot imagine any healthcare facility delving into Paper files for each member who shows up for a flu shot, digging out tests that were done and Preventive Healthcare tests that were overdue, especially when the line is 200 long! They did this because they could, with just a swipe of a card!

We keep talking about moving from an illness based healthcare system to one of Health and Preventive healthcare. From a practical point of view, you need to encounter situations like these to see what a leap of healthcare Quality, just making healthrecords electronic, enables!

Just Preventive Healthcare alone will save any payer – the Medicare/Medicaid ones or the Insurance Companies, in spades, money they dole out in treating patients after they get too ill! What a shame!

So when someone talks about Preventive Healthcare saving money and EHR enabling it, believe you me, they are little things like the one that make them possible!