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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 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

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.

Medical Siri on the iPhone and iPad

Posted on November 11, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

One of my regular physician readers, Brian, left the following comment on my post about the mythology of the Perfect EMR.

The reality is that we are now comparing EMR to our iPhone 4s’s. Our consumer technology is so far ahead of hospital technology that it is jarring and annoying to use work tech. This is what I want: “Siri, give me a differential for elevated amylase. Thank you. Now order CBC, Chem 14, TSH and free T4. Good. Now I will dictate. The patient is a 41 year old man with abdominal pain…”

Certainly we could have a long discussion about the difference in consumer technology and popular healthcare technology. However, I couldn’t help but wonder how many doctors have tried out Siri on their iPhone in order to get healthcare information. I bet this is pretty common. Although, I wonder how good the answers are that Siri gives.

If you’re a medical provider that’s used Siri for accessing health and medical information, I’d love to hear about your experience. I bet there are probably also a bunch of funny experiences trying to use Siri for medical info. I’d love to hear those as well.

Are there ways that “Siri” like technology could and should be implemented in EMR and EHR software?

Mobile Makes the Difference in Emergencies … or on Vacation

Posted on August 3, 2011 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.

My family and I have escaped this week to our favorite vacation destination, Pensacola Beach. And so I sit here writing in the cozy confines of the condo that we call home for close to a week nearly every summer. I gave barely a thought to how I was going to transmit this blog to the HealthcareScene.com servers while here. As it turns out, there is no WiFi, which means I’m relying on my iPhone to do a bit of online research, my laptop for Word, and the hotel across the street’s business center with which to cobble it all together.

My connectivity issues pale, of course, in comparison to those of providers working outside of their hospital’s four walls – be it in emergency situations such as the aftermath of a hurricanes like Ivan and Dennis, which hit Pensacola back in 2004 and 2005, respectively, or as part of a routine provider/patient encounter in telehealth programs. I wonder how providers at Pensacola’s Sacred Heart Hospital, where I was born (and no, I’m not telling you what year), handled patient care in the aftermath of Ivan, which devastated the town and outlying beach communities, and how mobile health solutions might better enable them should Mother Nature pay the same sort of visit today.

Well timed for this blog was the recent news that Epocrates has released the first phase of its EHR system, including an iPhone app, targeted to primary care practices with 10 physicians or less. The EHR, according to a recent report at MobiHealthNews.com, “is initially available as a Web-based SaaS product, includes patient encounter notes, electronic lab integration, e-prescribing and Epocrates’ flagship drug database.”

The iPhone version should be available in a few weeks, and is likely to include remote patient record look-up and schedule access, and e-prescribing. The iPad version, which is in development, will focus on point-of-care data capture. MobiHealthNews.com also reports that an Android app is in the works, but will be rolled out in later versions of the EHR.

It will be interesting to see if later versions also target larger physician practices, which would surely also benefit from mobile technology like this. Perhaps most interesting, at least to providers in places like Pensacola that see their fair share of hurricane-induced on-site emergency care, is that the Epocrates mobile EHR app will “be a native app and it will store patient data on the device,” according to the company, which means that “the device will not need a signal to access the EHR. Any new data will be synched with the record once the phone finds a signal.”

Hopefully that signal will not be as elusive in a community’s time of need as the WiFi seems to be at my vacation destination.

Using PIMSY EMR on an iPad and Android Device

Posted on May 30, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

One of the regular EMR and EHR readers, Judy, recently took up the challenge I posed in my previous post about Every EMR Vendor available on the iPad. She downloaded the LogMeIn Ignition app that I mentioned in that post and tried out her PIMSY EMR software on it. Thanks to Judy for sharing her experience.

The following is her experience and review.

I tested the new LogMeIn app to see if I could access PIMSY EMR from my older Droid and from an iPad. It takes a little getting used to: you have to familiarize yourself with how to navigate on the screen and how to change the size to get the screen view that works for you. Once you get that done you are good to go. That said, there are 2 ways to change the size: a magnifying option at the bottom of the screen or a zoom in bar on the right hand side; you can enlarge as much as needed. There are also 2 options for moving around: you can move the screen with your finger (the cursor stays put) or you can move the cursor like a regular mouse; I prefer navigating around the cursor. Both options make it simple to maneuver.

If you’re used to texting and typing on a smaller keyboard, it will be easier to adjust. The app itself gives you a keyboard that takes up approximately half the size of the screen, so larger phone screens like Droid 2 or iPhone would have a bigger keyboard than a regular Droid, and the iPhone keyboard was comparable to a regular size. For those who aren’t used to navigating and typing on a phone screen, there will be an adjustment period. If you’re connected to dual monitors, you can easily switch to either one, and I was able to watch a video.

The speed is slightly slower from phone or iPad to computer but very good from computer to computer. The app is not offered on a Blackberry. I would highly recommend this app to anyone who wants to connect to their desktop remotely; it worked great to get into PIMSY. Well worth $29.99.

Want People To Use PHRs? Try Making Them A Game

Posted on April 25, 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’m embarrassed to admit this, but over the last week I’ve become addicted to a hideously cute little iPhone app called Shopkick.  The app locates where you are geographically, spits out a list of retailers for you, and when you click on the retailer’s name, typically rewards you with “kickbucks.”

The more kickbucks you get, the higher “level” you’re at, whatever that means — and when you collect, say, thousands of points you can get a $25 gift card. (Yippee!)  In truth, the rewards Shopkick offers probably average out to about 3 cents an hour. Who cares?  I keep playing with the stupid app until I’m out of offers to click.

Now can anyone tell me why the same type of scheme wouldn’t motivate at least some consumers to add data to their PHR on a regular basis?  Small cash rewards are already proving effective at improving medication compliance, after all, and for most people, updating their PHR would be no harder than taking a pill.

In the past, I’ve scoffed mightily at online schemes which reward people for participating in communities, filling out forms or otherwise doing what they’re told.  After all, why should anyone care if a site names them an “explorer” or a “champion” or a “grand poobah”?  But there I am, getting psyched when Shopkick promotes me from level 3 to level 4.  Hey, I can’t help it — every time you level up you get such a cute little chime and a big green bubble to pop…  (Yes, I am otherwise a mature, responsible adult.)

But I’m being taught, by playing with this app, that rewarding people — even with very small incentives — can do an amazing job of getting them to repeat behavior.  Offer patients relevant reinforcement and patients are likely to take the PHR maintenance job more seriously.   What if, for example, a health plan teamed up with a pharmacy retailer to offer discounts on products if patients maintained their data? It could be huge.

But don’t make the rewards too exciting. Hey, you might have to keep releasing new, updated versions of your gaming system to satisfy fans.

VitalHealth iPad Like EHR Interface

Posted on April 14, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.


During my time at HIMSS, one EHR vendor, VitalHealth EHR, made the pitch to me that they’ve really created an EHR from the ground up that was more innovative and usable than all the other EHR software out there. They described the doctors that stopped by their booth and saw a demo loved their interface and wondered why all the EHR software companies hadn’t done something similar. While an interesting pitch, I asked them whether such a pitch would be able to be heard above all the EMR noise.

After such a pitch I was certainly interested to see the product demo myself. I should say that going into the demo they’d told me that it was still in beta (maybe even alpha). Their website says it will become generally available in Q3 of 2011.

They did a demo of their product on a touch screen computer (I think they should have done it on the iPad. Especially with all the iPad Mania in Healthcare). However, the thing that struck me most was that even on this touch screen computer it looked and felt like an iPad. I’m not sure if they got their inspiration from the iPad and iPhone or if the iPad and iPhone stole it from them (I think I know which), but I was pretty amazed at how similar the interface and navigation felt to that of the iPad.

Unfortunately, outside of the interface, the feature set of the product was pretty disappointing. I asked them to do what I thought would be some pretty simple things (I think it was something with diagnosing) and that feature wasn’t quite built. Not all that surprising since they’re still in beta. Plus, I imagine they were trying to get something together before HIMSS. What will be more interesting is to see them after a year of development under their belt. Will they be able to get the required feature set for it to be a viable alternative? I’ll be certainly keeping an eye on it.

A post like this wouldn’t be worth anything without some screenshots of this “iPad” like interface. I’m not sure these screenshots quite do it justice since the navigation matters too, but you’ll notice some specific design things they’ve done to enable the touch screen capabilities of an iPad and similar devices. Either way, I love seeing EHR screenshots, so here’s a bunch of the VitalHealth EHR screenshots (click on them once to see a bigger shot. Click a second time to see it full size):

iPad EMR Demo in Apple Store

Posted on June 16, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

I find this completely fascinating. Yes, the Apple Store is demoing various medical applications like EMR on the iPad. Here’s an excerpt from blogger Iltifat Husain walking into an Apple Store:

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.

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.

Pretty interesting to see Apple committing that type of resource to marketing the clinical applications.

iPhone and iTouch Front End for Hospital EMR Systems

Posted on October 13, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

I recently got a note from someone who is working on a rather interesting project. They’re basically creating a standard front end for a hospital’s EMR systems. I think the concept is really interesting and could be really cool to see put in practice. Here’s a note from one of the company founders about what they’re doing.

Contineo (Latin meaning “To bring together”) — is designed to be a back-end agnostic client. Our goal is to wrap all medical information systems into a single client. This means providing access to Nurse Call, Patient Monitoring, Results and even EVS (Environmental) and ordering systems (Such as food ordering).

Additionally, we have integrated messaging features (IM) that allow for staff to communicate with one-another and are working on a range of other elements that really focus on providing the best tool of a clinician to access and interact with medical systems and data.

We do this through our client server architecture where the server is integrated with the varied medical systems through standard APIs. We are working to identify key systems that are standards based and develop modules to connect to them.

Any HL7 or XML based backend can be integrated with.

Currently, we have a proof of concept with a major hospital in Silicon Valley, where we are connecting to a Microsoft Amalga system – and providing the same front-end client that is seen in this Medsphere post.

We are working with clinicians to define workflows that are of value to them – this includes things such as medication administration. The client has an integrated barcode scanner which allows for med/patient verification and the logging of the actual admin of a drug. This encounter scenario can be used in a number of workflows; e.g. Verify order, take action, confirm action completed.

This can be pushed back into the EHR via a standard HL-7 message. In the case of an Amalga implementation – the data could be pushed to both the EMR and Amalga

We are seeking input and feedback and are really looking for more hospitals that would be interested in a POC and potential Pilot.

As you can see they’re looking for hospitals to pilot their product. You can contact Contineo on the Contact page of their website. Otherwise, leave a comment and I’m sure they’ll be watching there as well.

I told them they needed to do the same type of interface for ambulatory EMR. Could be really interesting to see that type of integration with the iPhone.

Apple EMR

Posted on September 16, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

News came out this week about a Dell EMR, which is really just a branded version of eCW and possibly some other EMR companies. However, no doubt Dell’s ability to sell software is going to be a nice marketing tool for the EMR companies with which they interact.

Neil Versel posted about some rumblings about Apple joining the EMR fray. There are some EMR vendors that are optimized for some of Apple’s devices. In fact, I’ve even seen some action towards some iPhone specific EMR companies. Also, I think it’s reasonable to think that Apple may come out with an Apple tablet soon and healthcare has always been a tablets favorite market.

Either way, it’s interesting to see all these big brands joining in with others already in the healthcare space. Are they chasing after the $36.3 billion in EMR stimulus money?