Although extremely popular in the healthcare industry, Apple iPads and other tablets are not being extensively embraced for implementing Electronic Health Records (EHR) initiatives. The Physicians Consulting Network revealed in a 2011 poll that 27% of primary care and specialty physicians owned tablets and use them on the job. This rate is five times greater than the general population. Despite the rapid adoption of tablets in the healthcare marketplace, there has been limited progress in terms of their actual meaningful use with certified EHR technology.
The main reasons why physicians have not been utilizing iPads for medical recordkeeping is twofold. One reason is that there have been limited advancements in the Electronic Health Software (EHS) to leverage Apples’ iOS operating software. The other main reason is concerns with mobile device security. Spyclass Consulting Group published a recent study Healthcare Without Bounds: Point Of Care Computing for Physicians 2012. In the study a hundred physicians, of whom 70% were iPad users, 83% used desktop computers as their main IT device for accessing corporate assets and patient data.
The major EHS providers are investing heavily into the development of applications to run on tablet devices. “Significant software innovation will be required to realize the vision of anytime, anywhere clinical computing,” says Gregg Malay, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group. “Clinical applications must be rewritten and optimized to take advantage of the native capabilities of the Apple iPad and other mobile devices including gesture—based computing, natural language speech recognition, unified communications, and video conferencing.”
Even with the rapid adoption of tablet computers there is much debate on whether or not they will provide a practical long-term solution for patient recordkeeping. With small display screens and onscreen keyboards, tablets are not very contusive for robust EHR platforms. The industry leading software providers which include Allscripts, Cerner, Epic, McKesson, MEDITECH, are all working on applications, yet full software redesign efforts do not seem to be on the fast-track. There will most certainly be continued progress made to leverage tablets in Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), but for now, tablet devices are very much limited in their ability to support workflow initiatives.