Docs get 'Nimble'

By Molly Merrill
09:43 AM

Nimble, a new comprehensive EMR application designed and developed specifically for the iPad, hit the market last month with the aim of allowing docs to provide meaningful care – at the point of care.

St. Louis-based ClearPractice, a provider of web-based electronic medical record and revenue cycle management software for ambulatory care physicians, worked with Apple to optimize the app's interface "to create a new user experience for docs," said ClearPractice President Joel Andersen.

"We didn't just replicate our existing EMR system on the iPad, we took the opportunity to rethink the EMR experience and do all the things we could never do via other devices or platforms," he said.

The Nimble EMR application contains all the features of the company's existing SaaS-based EMR solution including scheduling, charting, prescribing, inpatient rounds, lab review/ordering, messaging and more. The product also seamlessly integrates with the company's practice management and billing system so all charges are automatically captured, scrubbed, and electronically submitted for payment.

Company officials tout Nimble as the first comprehensive EMR solution developed for Apple's iOS platform to run natively on the iPad. The product connects via WiFi or 3G to the ClearPractice cloud so no data is stored on the device making it secure and HIPAA compliant.

Back in April, DrChrono released its iPad EMR also claiming that it was the first native application to run on the iPad. Like Nimble, DrChrono’s EMR is accessible through Apple's iOS hardware and uses cloud storage for all its data.

“Since our debut in the App Store this spring, we have already released six updates (these are feature-rich updates, not just small patches) and continue to modify and enhance our EMR to meet the needs of our users,” said Christian Bonawandt, a public relations advisor  for DrChrono. He said they anticipate being certified in early 2011.

Another possible competitor in this space is Lincoln, Neb.-based MacPractice, but its EMR for the iPad requires a VNC connection to gain access to EMR records that are maintained on other machines. The company, however, is in the process of designing a native iPad app. There have been reports that Epic is working on a native EMR app for the iPad as well.

Ultimately, the differentiator in this market will most likely come down to how docs view the technology’s usability.
Solo practitioner Lianna Lawson, MD, of Lawson Family Medicine and Aesthetics in Daleville, Va., was one of 20 physicians beta testing Nimble.

Lawson has been using an EMR from ClearPractice for about a year. She admits she is not very tech savvy, but says that using the new app has required very little learning on her part and has "opened up my ability to care for my patients."

She said one very "unexpected but pleasant benefit" is the ability to visually go over her patients' medication history using the iPad. "It's amazing, when a patient can see the list, the number of times that they say, 'I don't take that medication anymore.'"

"There are 560,000 office based physicians in the United States. Seventy percent are in small practices and most still use paper-based records," noted John Doerr, venture capitalist and board member at ClearPractice. "The iPad will transform healthcare IT, and Nimble is the game changer; it gives doctors real-time information to better serve vital patient needs."

ClearPractice is providing an iPad and a copy of Nimble free to the first 500 physicians who subscribe to its EMR and PM solution.