iPad helps docs go paperless

By Molly Merrill
01:43 PM

With the release of the iPad in April, many healthcare experts predicted that it could be a “game changer” for the industry by spurring physician’s adoption of electronic medical records.

Connecticut physician Steven A. R. Murphy proposed that every doctor should use one. “The iPad is going to crush laptops in this [healthcare] space,” he told Healthcare IT News in May. 

Nick Volosin, ISS director of technical services at Kaweah Delta Health Care District in California, said the hospital was planning to buy more than 100 iPads over the summer. He said the hospital was conducting a pilot to get feedback on how applications ran on them compared to the tablets and laptops clinicians were using.

Volosin said departments like pharmacy, emergency, dietary, home health, hospice, clinical engineering/bioMed, private practice physicians and nursing supervisors are all being considered as potential users because their current mobile device has become a “barrier” for them because of its size, weight and battery life.

According to feedback from its emergency department the iPad is also a potential cost saver. The emergency department estimates that it could trade a COW (Computer on Wheels) which, costs $7,500 for 3 iPads, costing $1,500.

"The iPad is currently the best mobile 'thin' client available," said Volosin. "I think it is a device, which can help escalate going ‘paperless.'"

EMR vendors wasted no time in designing applications for the iPad. The same month it debuted, New York-based DrChrono released its iPad EMR, claiming it was the first native application to run on the iPad. In late September St. Louis-based ClearPractice came out with similar claims when it launched “Nimble.”

"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."

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 admitted she was not very tech savvy, but said using the new app has required very little learning on her part and has "opened up my ability to care for my patients."

Other possible competitors in this space are Lincoln, Neb.-based MacPractice, and Verno, Wisc.-based Epic, who is reportedly working on their on app.