Storm clouds continue to gather in the Apple-Adobe feud over Flash and recent reports suggest it could get even worse. Reports are surfacing that they Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are in discussions over opening an inquiry into the recent changes to the iPhone OS developer license agreement. As we discussed previously, these changes basically kill Flash on the iPhone OS, thus including both the iPhone and iPad. We’ve talked previously about our excitement over the numerous emerging web-based electronic health records such as CareCloud and Practice Fusion. With news from Adobe of plans to include a “Packager for iPhone” in the latest development kit, we were definitely excited that these electronic health records would be ready to go on the iPad. But it looks like those dreams have ended.
As the folks over at PC World are quick to point out, we are right now in the “rumor” stage that an inquiry – not a full scale investigation – may occur. Even so, Apple’s legal team is certainly revving up for a fight. But, at least when it comes to medicine, this is a fight they may be better of losing.
As Steve Jobs continues to rage against the Adobe machine, Google and the associated Android are very publicly embracing Flash and will be including Flash support in Android 2.2. This will allow access to everything from news content to the most inane of internet games, which some may argue is also important to medical professionals who are also regular people outside of the clinic and hospital. What is indisputable though is that many low-cost or even free web-baesd electronic health records will now be accessible via Android devices. Meanwhile, iPhone and iPad users will have to wait for healthcare IT vendors, whose EHR’s are generally either Windows or Flash-based, to develop apps specifically for them. And as the race for electronic health record adoption continues in light of the stimulus funds available for it, time is not on Apple’s side.
As physicians, especially those in smaller practices, look to adopt EHR’s, they will also look to adopt new devices on which to run them. Android devices will have an obvious advantage with web-based electronic health records thanks to Apple’s scuffle over Flash. What’s also interesting to note is the numerous emerging tablets that will also run Android. Glancing at the CES 2010 review of 10 tablets worth noting, by PC World, the majority will run Android. And with prices as low as $200 (if Freescale does in fact deliver on this promise), there will be a lot of choice in terms of cost as well. So for the physician looking to adopt a tablet, there will be a variety of choices to fit his or her needs.
Web-based EHR’s certainly carry a smaller market share than major players like Epic, Allscripts, and so on. They are, however, a dynamic platform with a lot of potential especially, from a cost and simplicity perspective, for the smaller physician practices. And as physicians deploy these systems and look for devices on which to run them, Android-devices are, for the most part, now the only game in town.