First iPad EMR app eligible for meaningful use

I read an interesting story on Sunday night regarding DrChrono, the first EMR to make use of iPad app technology to carry it. How powerful to have an EMR in tablet based form, indeed.  But is this the first tablet to be able to run an EMR in portable/mobile form?  I wouldn’t think so. But how many people out there crave the ability to carry around a tablet — with the style of an iPad — that they can integrate with the rest of their lives when they leave the office?  I’d wager it’s a lot.

The only problem I have with the announcement post about the DrChrono EMR app is that it claims that Drchrono is “the only app of its kind to receive such [meaningful use] certification so far.”  Interestingly, there is a much older announcement allowing Practice Fusion users — of which I am a member — to use their web-based EMR on an iPad via a Logmein app.  I haven’t done this yet, although I use PF on my MacBook Air at home all the time.  One key difference between Practice Fusion and DrChrono is the cost.  With PF, there is no data limit to this free EMR.  However, for DrChrono, the free version will only support up to 10 GB of stored patient data, beyond which there is a charge per provider which can be up to $799/month, depending on the amount of data to be stored.  Nevertheless, it’s certainly a welcome sign of the times that an app, in and of itself, is now meaningful use-certified.

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC.  He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC, as a solo practice in 2009.  He can be reached at doctorwestindc@gmail.com. 

About the author

Dr. Michael West

Dr. Michael West

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

11 Comments

  • Hmmm. I thought Clearpractice Nimble 3 was the first native iPad EMR app to be 100% certified back in Sept., 2010…… I guess it depends on what you mean by “of its kind”…..

  • The announcement for Dr. Chrono was perfectly accurate. Dr. Chrono skated to where the puck was and made a “native” iOS app to access their client. The company had the foresight to know that physicians are buying tablets (tablets = iPad) at 3x the general population. The did the hard work to make a native app with a true touch based UI to meet the needs of physicians that want to use the iPad for their EHR.

    Practice Fusion, on the other hand, has a nice product, but they made the mistake of building their entire platform in Adobe Air, which is based around Flash. This decision negated the use of all iOS devices including the iPad. They eventually realized their client base wasn’t buying laptops or desktops in record numbers, but buying iPads and iPhones.

    So instead of putting in the hard work and making a native iOS app with a true tablet UI and touch based targets, they did a cop out. They “offered” the use of a desktop virtualization client on the iPad to access a non-touch based UI on a remote desktop.

    I like LogMeIn, but it is in no way meant for serious long term productivity on the iPad.

    So as it stands, DC is perfectly correct as the first EHR with a native iOS client to get meaningful use.

  • Leon, thanks for another potential contender.

    SiMBa37, thanks for your thoughts. Regarding PF, it would be interesting to know what benefits would be had if they made a native iOS app vs. where they are now. I.e. what’s the point of making it if you can use an iPad already with PF? Also, what do you think of Leon’s comment?

  • Hi Dr. West,
    Great blog post. I wanted to give some feedback from drchrono on the advantages of a native app and highlight what is very unique about drchrono.

    Technically, a native app on the iPad like drchrono can provide key and unique functionality that non-native apps using “VNC”/”Remote Login” or pure web based solutions just can’t do.

    For instance, realtime streaming speech-to-text, taking photos/videos using an iPad2 and directly integrating into the medical record, drawing on the touch screen, caching of data for enhanced speed and offline (no internet) iPad usage, and integration with other native iPad applications.

    I can’t stress the last point enough, drchrono’s native iPad EHR application can integrate with other native iPad applications on the iPad device itself. We are only scratching the surface of what we can do in this regard and have some amazing things planned for the coming months.

    On the business end of things being a native application that is available for free in the iTunes App Store allows healthcare providers to download drchrono and start using it for free within seconds. drchrono has a freemium model and we only generate revenue via paid upgrades (the most prominent of which is taking over the practice’s medical billing which is an existing cost center for private practice doctors.)

    drchrono’s policy is to give away everything that we can possibly give away for free on the free plan.

    What makes drchrono truly unique is that we offer a free native EHR on the iPad and are committed to building natively to the iPad platform. We actually used the iPad during our Meanginful Use certification testing to meet the government criteria!

  • Michael, thank you! I’m actually excited about what DrChrono can do and all of the ideas you discuss make perfect sense in the amazing environment of an iPad. To be honest, the price wouldn’t bother me as much if I were reassured that you can actually run a real world practice for a reasonable (read minimal) amount of money invested, considering the total annual fee per provider. How many patients do you think it would take to exceed 10 GB? BTW, love the cute avatars for the individual price plans. Very cool and great marketing.

  • Yes, Emily, I saw it! Amazingly, I did a second post just today several hours ago. I think you may have been reading this post as I was reading and posting about you guys’ post. Now I’d love to take you up on your offer to get setup on an iPad, but sadly don’t have one yet :-(. However, we should definitely meet up when you come in! What’s going on on the 8th?

  • DrChrono definitely wasn’t the first native iPad app. The Nimble app from ClearPractice was the first EHR company to claim that press release from best I could tell. I haven’t followed whether ClearPractice has followed through on getting their EHR certified or not and whether or not they beat DrChrono to that milestone or not. I don’t think that point really matters all that much since I have little doubt that both will be certified EHR.

    There is a very big difference between native iPad apps and apps run through some sort of remote desktop. Once you try it, you’ll know very well why it’s different.

  • Speed is one of the major benefits of a native iPad app. Other benefits are integration with other iPad apps, functions and features as is mentioned above. Another is that a native iPad app has generally been designed to handle touch input much better than just a remote connection to an app that wasn’t designed for the iPad. The complaint for this one is that there’s too much scrolling when it’s not a native iPad app.

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