This week, ClearPractice released Eden, which company president Joel Andersen unabashedly trumpets as one of the few native iPad EHRs — that is, because it’s Web-based and hosted by ClearPractice, a physician can do all functions of the patient chart on the iPad, no laptop or desktop needed.
In an interview for an upcoming SearchHealthIT story that deals with the greater issue of cloud adoption for HIT systems, he shared some interesting survey data his company collected in developing Eden: A significant percentage of solo docs and small group practices either are seriously considering running Macintosh computers, or are already. Close integration with iPhone and iPad EHR apps is one of the reasons he suspects is driving this interest. That, and when it comes down to it, the Safari browser tends to run faster than the old Windows warhorse, Internet Explorer.
“One of the things we found [when porting Eden from IE to Safari] is that it runs four times faster on Safari than the IE version,” Andersen said. “It was an interesting discovery, as well as an exciting discovery.”
But that’s not the whole story. It’s not necessarily independence from Windows PCs that these small providers want, but independence from IT headaches in general. They are driving a device-neutral culture that allows them to access patient data from phones, tablets, desktops and laptops wherever they are, via 3G, wireless, or wired connections. They want choice, and that choice sometimes can be Windows machines. If they’ve invested in that tech, they want to get more of a return on it and not just toss out the gear they’ve already bought.
“We use the desktop, Safari version or the Windows version depending on who’s using it and where in the office,” said Dr. Scott Yates, a Dallas-area internist whose three-physician practice switched from a locally served EHR system to ClearPractice’s Web-based EHR.
While he uses the iPad, iPhone and Macintosh computers personally, he’s not one of those diehard Mac evangelist types who pushes Apple tech upon his fellow physicians and support staff. What he really needs out of his EHR vendor is a hardware-agnostic system.
“We can use anything, wherever we are,” Yates said, adding later, “if I have exam rooms that have PCs, I can use them. I haven’t had to replace the hardware, which I think is a big barrier to entry….I like having the option, I don’t have to have two separate desktops at home to do what I have to do.”
While this really can only happen at the solo doc/small group practice level — what hospital is going to abandon its complex, legacy network infrastructure in favor of a totally Web-based setup, at least at this point in time? — it is interesting to note that these nimbler, simpler systems do have their place in health care. The vendor-analyst fraternity’s theory that the health care cloud’s time has come despite physician reservations about matters of security, uptime and general distrust of cloud vendors seems to be coming true. Slowly, but surely. The device independence is just too enticing to resist.
Really, if you can manage your social networking and email on smartphones, iPads, iPod Touches or any Windows or Mac computer — even on Linux — why not your patient data? Leave it to the fiercely independent solo doc to drive this particular health care technology revolution.