iPad EHR gets certified...what next?

The iPad-native EHR from drchrono recently received ONC-ATCB certification.

A novelty? Or the wave of the future? 

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – In what its CEO bills as a development that "could finally drive global usage and adoption" of the technology, drchrono, which makes electronic health records for iPads, received meaningful use certification as an ambulatory EHR earlier this summer.

Its certification, from San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based InfoGard Laboratories, an ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Body, is the first for an iPad-native EHR, executives say.

Now, cash-strapped or technology-shy docs could have yet another avenue by which to pocket as much as $44,000 in meaningful use incentives. Is this a model that will finally catch fire with the legions of small practices that have yet to make the switch to electronic records? Or just a fad?

The drchrono application is touted as a complete solution to run a physician’s practice. Its features include e-prescribing, a real-time speech-to-text capability, custom workflows, the ability to integrate photos and videos into a patient chart and integrated electronic medical billing. It tracks how much a doctor uses the EHR and gives them key metrics to report to the government in order to get incentive payments.

Even still, says drchrono CEO Michael Nusimow, other, larger vendors "kind of looked down on the iPad as a toy, as a consumer device." That's why getting certified by an ONC-ATCB was so crucial.

Normally, government certification is "not very friendly to startups," says Nusimow. But while he concedes the process was difficult at times, he says InfoGard stipulations were "well thought-out and balanced."

In fact, its rigors forced drchrono to speed up some of its features. "Things I think we may have gotten to, say, six months down the line, or even in a year, it forced us to address them really early," he says. "It made us a much stronger product."

Most of all, he knew that if his well designed and intuitive interface was to be taken seriously, it was a necessary process. "Early on, there was a lot of excitement from doctors" about an iPad EHR – but there was also this fear, uncertainty and doubt," says Nusimow. "Is this a toy? Is this going to get me government certification? Is this a heavy-duty system?"

Drchono customers "wanted meaningful use certification," he says. "That convinced them to pull the trigger… That's what they were waiting for, kind of a sign of maturity."

Simply put, Docs love iPads. Thirty percent of them own the tablets, according to Manhattan research. Vince Kuraitis, principal at Better Health Technologies and proprietor of the eCareManagement blog, says the appeal for physicians is obvious.