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Android’s Advantage Over iPhone in Mobile Health Applications

Posted on February 7, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The reports are all over the web comparing the Android market share to iPhone’s market share (see one example here). These numbers are important for anyone in the mobile health space that’s considering their strategy for developing a mobile health application. The same goes for EHR vendors that are working on their mobile EHR strategy.

The reality as I see the mobile phone market share numbers is that Android is taking the lead when it comes to market share. No doubt, iPhone still has an incredibly compelling offering and many loyal fans. This is particularly true in healthcare where a doctor having an iPhone is in many ways a bit of a cool “status” symbol for the doctor. However, in the long term I think that even healthcare will see a similar market share shift to the Android over the iPhone as well.

Why am I so bullish on the Android in healthcare despite healthcare’s current love affair with the iPhone?

The core reason that I think the Android phones (and much of this could apply to tablets as well) will do very well as mobile health applications is because of how much customization is possible with Android devices. In fact, pretty much anything is possible on an Android phone because of the open source nature of the software. I expect many mobile health applications will need and want to exploit the flexibility and openness of Android over the iPhone.

One concern I do have about this idea is that Android does pose its own challenges for developers. In the case of the iPhone, you basically only have to code your application to work across a small handful of iOS versions and handsets. In fact, Apple has smartly made sure that many things remained the same across every iPhone. This makes developers lives much easier. In the case of Android, you have hundreds of possible handset combinations you have to consider when developing your application. This can be really hard to test and can often lead to a bad user experience for some Android devices.

In some ways, the current Android environment reminds me of the challenges we use to face (and still do today in some ways) in creating a webpage that worked across all the various web browsers. A lot of effort went into making sure your website worked everywhere. However, over time the standards have developed and this is much less of an issue today than it was when the internet first started. I believe the same will be true for Android.

The reality is that Android and iPhones are both here to stay for the foreseeable future. Most mobile health applications are going to have to be able to support both platforms. Some might say that we should just be glad that it’s only two platforms we have to worry about. We had a lot more than two to think about back during the internet browser wars.

Vendor Hopes To Create Market For Windows 8-Based Tablet EMR

Posted on October 17, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

So far, Microsoft  has played its cards pretty close to the vest when it comes to the launch of its new tablet line (and iPad wannabe Surface. But news is trickling out on Surface, which will officially go to market October 26th.  That includes news of the first EMR built for the Surface, EMR Surface, which appears for sale in the new Microsoft Windows Store online for $499 a download.

EMR Surface is produced by a company called Pariscribe, based in Toronto, which says it was key in building Canada’s first Web-based EMR. Its existing products include a radiology system, physiotherapy suite, dental suite, patient registration software for kiosks and an EMR.

What makes EMR Surface interesting isn’t just that it’s based on a new tablet. Far more interesting is that it runs on Windows 8 which, according to a piece in  MobiHealthNews, the company sees as a major competitive advantage in the corporate world.

As readers know, the majority of mobile devices in healthcare run on iOS or Android, and last I checked, there’s been little discussion of the notion that a Windows 8 device could slip between the cracks.  That doesn’t mean Pariscribe is whacky to think so, however; in fact, it’s an intriguing idea.

According to article author Neil Versel, Pariscribe president and CEO Manny Abraham believes that Surface and Windows 8 and Surface will do a better job of bridging the gap between mobile and desktop computing.  If he’s right, the company is really on to something.

The thing is, iOS and Android have an iron grip on the mobile device market right now. Even the might of Microsoft might not be sufficient to break the market’s preference for these two operating systems.

That being said, if Pariscribe has come up with a particularly nifty solution, it could give Surface-based (and Win 8 based) EMRs a foot in the door. I’m eager to see how they do!

Just What the Doctor Ordered: Mobile Access to Your Kaiser EHR

Posted on January 26, 2012 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Recent news that Kaiser Permanente has made its patients’ electronic health records available via mobile devices comes as no surprise. Kaiser often seems to be at the forefront of interoperability and coordinated care, in large part due to its integrated nature and sheer volume of patients. As the company’s press release mentions, it maintains the “largest electronic medical records system in the world.” Now, 9 million of its patients can view their EHRs via a mobile site or Android app, with an iPhone app expected to launch in the near future.

On a macro level, I think this is a great step towards further empowering patients to take control of their health. By giving 9 million folks instant access to their own health information, I’d like to think that this will in turn prompt their friends and relations to ask, “Why doesn’t my doctor do that? What benefits am I missing out on?” And perhaps these same folks will then have a conversation with their provider about adopting this type of mobile access.

I’d be interested to see six months to a year from now, statistics comparing use of the mobile app/site to use of the tools found on the traditional website. Will Kaiser see a tremendous increase in the amount of emails between doctors and patients via its mobile apps? Are its doctors prepared for the potential onslaught of correspondence? I wonder if a few have balked at the possibility of being overrun by emails from particularly communicative patients.

Will they be able to tie these usage statistics to a jump in quality outcomes? Will mobile access ultimately become a criteria measured within accountable care models or patient-centered medical homes? Will mobile health truly equal better health?

On a micro level, I would certainly appreciate the effectiveness of access like this, which includes the ability to view lab results, diagnostic information, order prescription refills and the aforementioned email access to doctors. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the phone with a pediatric advice nurse and drawn a blank when asked what my child’s current weight might be. It would be nice to be able to quickly pull that data up on my cell phone, especially while we’re on the go or out of town. I could eventually see patient charting apps being layered on top of this, so that in the event of a high, overnight fever, I could log temperatures via the mobile app and review them with our pediatrician – possibly alerted every time a new temp or symptom is entered – the next morning.

The possibilities seem endless. I think the big goal for Kaiser now is to get folks engaged and using these new access points.

iPads Could Boost The Value of EMR Installations

Posted on March 27, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

I was hanging around the #hcsm (healthcare social media) chat tonight on Twitter, and caught some interesting comments from physicians on how they use tablets.  While it’s hard to tell how unusual this approach is — the #hcsm chat attracts cutting edge types — one physician noted that he shows the patients what he’s doing on his iPad.

Now, in this case the physician said he does so simply to demonstrate that he’s not texting on their time. But that could be just the beginning. As doctors increasingly adopt iPad, Android and other tablets, they’re in a much better position to turn encounters into information sharing moments.

As a patient, I’ve already hit a few practices that have implemented EMRs. While big changes may be happening in the back offices of these practices, things haven’t been much different during my time with the physicians.  Arguably, they’ve seemed a bit better prepared, and in at least one case, they seemed more efficient at note-taking, but it wasn’t some kind of breakthrough moment.

On the other hand, if they used iPhone or Android apps to share key EMR data with me, in real time, it could be a real game-changer.

For example, imagine that you’re a diabetic, and you’ve come in for a regular screening.  Usually, you’ll get some feedback on your overall health status, commentary on test results and suggestions on how to move ahead, but it’s a bit superficial and rushed unless there’s an emergency afoot.

What if the same diabetic got to see a graph, drawing on data in the EMR, which offered a personalized analysis of how their A1c, glucose levels and other key metrics were trending. The same iPad display could offer a printable list of suggestions, and if you really got tricky, brief educational videos providing more background on each step as needed.

In short, a tablet is more than just a portable physician convenience; it’s a powerful display device which could greatly improve patient/doctor communication.  And if it leverages the well-indexed EMR, that data will be offer more than a recap of the conversation.

Given tablets’ potential for improving clinical encounters, I think practices should plan their EMR and iPad investments in tandem. Tablets can be a doorway to better counseling, education and collaboration with patients.  I hope to see more physicians move in this direction.