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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