I interviewed Robert Quinn, Senior Vice President of Engineering and CTO of Epocrates at HIMSS 2010, and he spoke candidly about the many features Epocrates electronic health record will have, especially related to the iPhone.

epocrates Yes, that’s correct. Epocrates, the mobile medical app that nearly has the distinction of being the one “indispensable” application for every physician’s smart phone, is going to have a big brother soon.

The ten year old company, based in San Mateo California, believes its base of more than 900,000 clinicians worldwide and its experience with mobile medical development gives it the wherewithal for understanding what physicians need and expect from a mobile Electronic Health Record (EHR).

They are targeting solo and small physician practices and with a price point that is expected to be very competitive. “This was a logical next step for Epocrates,” said Rose Crane, chief executive officer of Epocrates, when making the announcement.

Integration with the iPhone

I had the opportunity to speak with Robert Quinn, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Chief Technical Officer about the forthcoming product. They are planning a shipping target of Fall 2010. The product will have both a mobile iPhone app and web interface. They plan on integrating the features of the iPhone, such as the camera, as well as dictation directly into the app, an interesting feature especially in light of the announcement today by Nuance that they will be shipping a medical transcription application for the iPhone.

They will also utilize the iPhone’s Push Notification Service to alert doctors of important or timely information (and hopefully not overuse it). Given Epocrates’ depth of knowledge of pharmaceutical formularies, he said e-prescribing will “of course” be built in.
Although the mobile application will synchronize with the web application, it will continue working even when there is no internet connection. Data will be stored on the handheld device in a secure, encrypted manner and synchronize when a connection is available, a real issue for hospitals where there are many “dead” zones. There will be condition-based templates for easy entry of clinical information. The application will be written as a native iPhone application.

There will also be integration with a revenue-cycle platform so physicians can charge and submit codes, through a partnership with a “known” company, although Mr. Quinn would not say who that will be. Epocrates anticipates they will achieve CCHIT certification by the time of release. The EHR will be delivered as a software-as-a-service (SAAS) model, meaning the physician will effectively lease, not purchase it.

This could be an attractive low-cost product for solo or small group physicians who do not have complex office staff EHR integration needs. In particular, for the physician who already uses their smart phone for many work activities, the potentially painless transition to using it as the primary interface into their office EHR may be very appealing.