The iPad has been a run-away success in the medical profession. This has led to activity by a number of apps companies to take advantage of the ease of use, flexibility and mobility of the devices. The tablets offer multiple potential advantages.
- They are accelerating the use of voice recognition in mobile apps, since it is such an easy way for doctors who are on the move, to enter data
- They provide doctors something that fixed computers do not offer, which is a patient-facing (in the physical sense, where there is proximity) tool for not only data entry but also sharing information with patients, such as basic illustration of a medical problem from a clinical source
- They accelerate data entry by doctors, speeding not only the transmittal of care information, but also expediting the billing cycle
There have been a number of initiatives responding to the rapid growth of mobile devices among doctors. In some cases these involve major healthcare information systems providers (e.g., McKesson, Cerner) offering applications for doctors using mobile devices. These are usually tied to the vendor’s electronic medical records system and we discuss some of these in the section on Hospitals.
Recently there has been a surge in the number of small applications developers, many of them start-ups, that are offering systems for doctors’ use. Based on interviews and other research, we discuss three of them in the following sections: EZ Derm; MedMaster Mobility; and SwiftPayMD.
EZ Derm offers an iPad-based medical system initially optimized for dermatologists. The system incorporates:
- Nuance speech recognition entry
- 3-D body maps that can be interacted with by touch
- Hand-written shorthand recognition
- “Integrated clinical decision-support that includes diagnosis information, workup algorithms, and suggested treatments”
- Telephony, videoconferencing, and texting
The company is a start-up, which intends to offer its system primarily as an SaaS cloud-based offering. Pricing is not yet fully determined.
The company has been attracted to working with iPad, not only because of its widespread use by doctors, but also because of perceived advantages of iOS and iPad over Android in screen resolution, tactility and other aspects.
The company also sees advantages in working with Nuance and that company’s medical dictation capabilities, based on Nuance’s focus on recognition of medical terms as well as its HIPAA compliance. It also finds that Nuance is increasingly supporting the iOS platform.
The company is beginning to work with some concepts from AR (artificial reality) which may, for example, enable doctors to model different scenarios before making a clinical decision. It is also working on advances in speech recognition and control, presumably with Nuance.
MedMaster Mobility is another start-up that plans to offers a native iPad cloud-based system for physicians, which is designed to provide a fairly complete assistant for the doctor. It incorporates the following features:
- Access to patient records
- Keeping track of prescriptions
- Ability to keep workup record
- Access to billing records
- SOAP notes (Subjective, Objective, Assessment, and Plan)
- Resources – medical authorities
- Voice control
- HIPAA compliance (voice sent over secure link; no sensitive data stored on device)
The company is a partner of Nuance for speech technologies. It emphasizes its use of Nuance Medical Speech Recognition and has plans to use CLU (Clinical Language Understanding), (which will not be included in the initial release of its system.)
The company also has stated that it is working on a further development for 2013 that it calls MedMaster HIE, a cloud-based platform that is designed for HL7 (Health Level Seven International – a global body working on health information interoperability) integration. The HIE system would, it is claimed, offer easy data exchange with information systems of all EHR, EMR, hospital, laboratory and radiology practices.
The Iconic Data – SwiftPayMD cloud-based system is focused on a more specific issue for doctors, namely billing. The company asserts that paper-based systems may cause the loss of 5-10% of doctors’ revenue. Their system allows entry from a mobile device, at the point-of-care, or whenever convenient for the doctor, to a secure, HIPAA compliant cloud-based database.
Thereupon the claims process for getting paid is initiated promptly. The company claims that on average its system helps eliminate a 10-30 day period for claims preparation – it refers to this period as the “digital divide.” The company charges $99 per physician per month for use of its system.