Docs can be 'nimble' with new EMR for the iPad

By Molly Merrill
08:45 AM

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

St. Louis, Mo.-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.

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

Company officials said the goal of Nimble is to break down workflow burdens for doctors by providing them with technology that is lightweight, has a long battery life (10 hours) and doesn't need to be rebooted.

Solo practitioner Lianna Lawson, MD, of Lawson Family Medicine and Aesthetics in Daleville, Va., was one of 20 physicians beta testing the EMR.

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 a very "unexpected but pleasant benefit" she has realized is being able to visually go over her patients' medication history using the iPad. "It's amazing how when a patient can see the list, the number of times that they say, 'I don't take that medication any more.'"

Lawson says the main drawback right now is that she can't print prescriptions from the iPad, but says that Apple has assured her that this functionality will be available soon.

After the month of beta testing is over, Lawson says, "We [my practice] will go out and get an iPad. I have no intention of not continuing to use it. It has made the way I practice flow much quicker."

"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."

Andersen says currently just under 15 percent of ClearPractice customers have gone out and bought an iPad. He predicts that 80 to 90 percent of future buyers will choose Nimble and get an iPad. Although ClearPractice will be providing free training for existing customers, he says, "we are confident that we can hand this over to people with zero training."

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.

ClearPractice is providing an iPad and a copy of Nimble free to the first 500 physicians that subscribe to its EMR and PM solution. For those already subscribing to the company's ClearPractice Clinical (at $399) or Practice Edition (at $499), the application is included free. Officials said a free trial version is available via the App Store.