Apple Store is demonstrating iPhone EMR apps to physicians

When I recently walked into my local Apple store to buy an iPad accessory, I saw a group of about 20 people huddled around a large LCD screen while an Apple employee was giving a workshop.

When I saw the LCD screen full of medical applications, I was shocked.  This wasn’t your run of the mill “how to use your iPhone” workshop.

The people gathered for the workshop consisted of healthcare professionals in medicine, dentistry, and other fields.  About a third of the group consisted of physicians.

The workshop was focused on how the iPhone and iPad can be useful for their practices and as reference tools for day to day work.

The workshop was led by an Apple employee who went through a slideshow presentation of useful medical applications, such as Epocrates, iMurmur, Airstrips OB, and many of the other useful applications we’ve featured on iMedicalApps before.

Most of the apps we’ve listed in our “top 10 free iPhone medical apps” list were mentioned throughout the presentation.  I was pleasantly surprised to see an in depth presentation on medical applications in the Apple Store – and I couldn’t help but feel the creators of the slideshow had been on our site before. Along with the presentation given by the Apple employee, a MacPractice representative was on hand to demonstrate their electronic health record and how it worked from the desktop to the iPhone and to the iPad.

It’s obvious when Apple first came out with the iPhone they saw potential in the medical industry.  Apple worked closely with Epocrates to make sure it was one of the first applications for the iPhone, and it was even featured when the iPhone 2G was being unveiled.  After this huge initial show of interest, Apple’s extent of reaching out to the medical community has been dedicating a little webspace to show how electronic health records and other tools can be implemented in practice, along with some videos of successful integration stories in hospitals and private practice.

If you go to the Apple webpage showing how their various platforms can be used in healthcare, you’ll see Apple linking six different electronic medical record companies [electronic medical records is synonymous with electronic health records].  These six different companies are: MacPractice, SpringCharts, ComChart, The Life Records, Practice Solutions, and PowerMed.  These software developers share one thing in common – they cater more towards small practices and individual physicians – not hospitals.  This makes sense since most hospitals use big time players, such as Siemens, when transitioning to electronic medical records.

It seems Apple is really trying to get more medical professionals to use their platforms and software when implementing health information technology.  At first, I thought the driver to all this was the increasing popularity of the iPhone and iPod touch with medical professionals. But – after I talked to an Apple employee, they informed me the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is one of the main reasons why Apple is trying to promote its platform for electronic medical record use – and one of the main reasons for the workshops.

No doubt Apple believes the incentives offered to physicians by the above Act ($44,000 per physician) will lead to a significant increase in adoption rates. It appears Apple wants to leverage their good standing and popularity among health care providers into showing how health information technology on their platform can yield favorable and lucrative results.

At the end of the day, Apple sees an opportunity to capitalize on the potential of rapid adoption of electronic medical records and wants to show healthcare providers how the iPhone and iPad can be used for this type of technology – and after a long hiatus, they are actively recruiting health care providers, right within their own stores.

Iltifat Husain is founder and editor of iMedicalApps.com.

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  • Frank

    I use MacPractice. It’s incredible. I love it. Super easy interface, just like you’d expect. Integration with Iphone and Ipad. EMR. Etc etc. I’m amazed at the value also. I love it what more can I say?

  • http://www.silvercensus.com/ Steffan Lozinak

    Though overall, I am not a huge fan of apple, I definitely admire their innovation and productivity. I just wish they were more straightforward with their releases instead of purposefully downgrading ideas so they can sell teh upgraded versions later. It’s a great business strategy, but it’s dishonest and I hate that it works :-/

  • http://www.procern.net Glad

    Kevin,
    How do these applications over the IPhone and IPad handle the HIPPA rules?

  • Jeff

    Untill the Iphone or Ipad embreace Silverlight! They are doomed!

    • Johnny

      Jeff – After selling tens of millions of iphones, and now with over a million ipads sold, they are far from doomed….

  • hawk

    silverlight is another version of flash, slow and proprietary. HTML5 is a better format, but it has been shows historically that apple, which uses open standards, tends to triumph over vendor specific proprietary solutions. just look at how popular h264 encoding is today..

  • http://albuquerquedr.com Albuquerque Doctors

    I think Apple’s view on getting revenue by showing off their platforms for doctors will work out good for them. Could there be a better time for this considering 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act? These in store demonstrations are great, when do the in office ones start?

  • http://thinkgene.com Andrew Yates

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=HR+1+ARRA+.gov

    The truth of this “free $44k from the government” is that it is only paid as medicare disbursement bonuses over several years limited to only the next few years. Meanwhile, the face value of medicare disbursements themselves continue to stagnate, decline, include new liabilities like HITECH penalties, or simply refused to be honored at all.

    There is no “free money from the government” for health information technology. The superior application technology itself should merit its use without incentives, but this “free money” myth is pernicious and easily dispelled with a ten minute revue of the law itself which you can read on any link returned by Google as included above. Also see the following link:

    http://www.thinkgene.com/practice-fusion-do-the-math-44000-is-a-lie/

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