This article is part of iMedicalApps HIMSS 2010 Coverage. It includes a brief review of the Allscripts Remote app for the iPhone as well as details of a conversation with Allscripts executives who revealed that they are moving to development of an Android app.
When Allscripts announced the launch of Allscripts Remote last year, an iPhone application for their popular electronic medical record, it was widely touted as a transformational move. Forbes Magazine called this an app “that could change medicine.” Allscripts origins are interesting, shifting from prepackaged medicine to e-prescribing solutions before entering the electronic health record industry. In fact, according to the marketing folks at the Allscripts booth, they are the largest source of e-prescriptions in the United States. And while Epic, Cerner, and Eclypsis may be the players many of us commonly think about, Allscripts definitely definitely is not little – according to their most recent SEC filing, Allscripts had over $500million in revenue for 2009 with a net income of $26million. By comparison, Epic also had $500million in revenue for 2009. So the inclusion of a rich, clinically useful mobile platform with Allscripts Remote has certainly been a big move in the EHR world.
The iPhone App: Frankly, this is the mobile EHR app that clinicians have been waiting for. Imagine being at dinner with your family. The paging service for your practice sends you a text – Mr. Jones called in because he’s got some swelling in his legs.
With the Remote app, you don’t even have to leave your seat (although you probably should for HIPAA reasons). When you open the app you’ve got several frames that you can enter, but you obviously first go into the EHR and look up Mr. Jones. You get a list of all the conditions Mr. Jones has been followed for (oh turns out he has CHF), his current medication list (he takes 20 mg Lasix once daily), and allergies. So you call Mr. Jones back (you also have his contact information) and he says “Doctor I ran out of my Lasix!” Well, the masters of e-prescribing have you covered. You can simply click on the Rx icon at the bottom of the screen to go over to his med list, tap on the “Lasix” to issue a new prescription, and send it to his favorite pharmacy.
Or lets say things are a little more serious – Mr .Jones has shortness of breath also. In that case, you simply touch the ER icon at the bottom of the screen to locate the nearest emergency room and fax a summary of Mr. Jone’s office record to that ER as you tell him to go there. Mr Jones now says “Thank you doctor – I’ll go as soon as I finish this movie and my bucket of popcorn.” You conclude your care of Mr. Jones by going over to the last field, a documentation icon, which allows you to enter a brief note on the call for Mr. Jone’s primary physician, probably with a comment that Mr. Jones may need some help managing his diet.
I knew that Allscripts Remote could do all of this when I walked in, but I was still amazed. The UI was cool and intuitive, with features like a touch-to-call feature in the patient’s individual record that show you that the folks at Allscripts thought of the little things that make a clinicians life easier.
The Android App: The Androids among us should get excited – I heard at the Allscripts booth that they are currently developing their Remote app for Android with hopes of release in the near future. More on that as we hear it! Remote is already available for Blackberry and Windows Mobile, but not with all the features available on the iPhone – I suspect its with Android that we’ll see the same level of functionality on a competing platform.
Allscripts EHR offerings are pretty diverse, including software-as-a-service solution for as little as $300, geared to the smaller practices that aren’t looking to make a huge investment in an in-house EHR. These kinds of offerings will be crucial for companies like Allscripts to capture the small-practice market, where a 70% of healthcare is delivered according to some studies. These practices, of which up to 80% may be looking at EHR adoption now based on a 2003 survey, may find particular appeal in the web-based EHR’s that we have discussed previously. However, Allscripts Remote is likely to challenge the mobility argument for web-based EHR’s in that this app is designed with an intuitive UI and rich features that clearly fit the clinician’s workflow – it will be interesting to see whether the web-based EHR vendors can develop, at least in the near future, a similarly rich, intuitive mobile interface for their products. As Mr. Hollis from MacPractice -another EHR vendor with a pretty cool iPhone interface – pointed out, there may be much richer possibilities with local apps and software than with a web-based platform.