Epocrates foray into the electronic medical record ecosystem is getting closer to launch with the announcement that pilot trials of their EHR are occurring at physician practices. The web and mobile based electronic health record is aimed at solo and small physician group offices — targeting the ambulatory setting.

During HIMSS 2010 we spoke to Epocrates in great detail about their electronic health record.  They gave iMedicalApps a glimpse of the EHR’s mobile functionality, stating the EHR will be integrated with the iPhone, and use features provided by the iOS platform, such as push notifications.

Incidentally, during HIMSS 2010, Nuance made a large announcement of their own.  They announced three products for the iPhone: Dragon Medical Mobile Dictate, Dragon Medical Mobile SDK, and Dragon Medical Search (we reviewed Dragon Medical Search last year). We talked to Nuance about their mobile offerings, and their representatives gave us live demos of their products.

At that time, our senior editor, Felasfa Wodajo, made a very astute connection — In his article on Nuance last year, he stated it would be obvious for Epocrates to use Nuance for their EHR and mobile offerings. A year later, that’s exactly what Epocrates is announcing.

So why is this a game changer?

Epocrates is going to call the integrated mobile dictation feature “SpeechAnywhere”. They say it will allow physicians to create medical reports anytime and anywhere — whether in the exam room, office, or in the field. Basically, anywhere your have your iPhone, your EMR will be there, with voice dictation capabilities.

This type of functionality cannot be overstated.  In the current paradigm, physicians who want to dictate into an electronic medical record experience significant lag time, you have to dictate into a recorder, wait for your dictation to be transcribed by a service, and then edit and fix the final transcription.

This is the reason why many physicians decide to free text information.  But, if you ask most physicians, they can dictate a HPI (History of Present Illness) faster than they can type it.  And this is the reason why Nuance’s medical voice transcription software is so coveted by physicians — it’s considered the gold standard.

I even know a physician who uses the dragon dictation iPhone app, not even the medical version, to do basic procedure notes, e-mails them to himself, and then manually copies and pastes them into the electronic health record — showing how quick and useful real time mobile transcription can be.  Now imagine if this process was seamless, automatically inputting content into the patient’s electronic health record.

Speech to text integration within a mobile platform is what truly makes an EHR mobile.  Can you imagine typing in a patient’s HPI or chief complaint using an iPhone or other mobile device? It would be nearly impossible.  When you have the ability to dictate, you no longer need a keyboard — you’re fully mobile.

The pairing of speech to text within an electronic medical record is rare.  Currently the only medical speech to text offered by a mobile electronic health record is Dr. Chrono.  While we are in the process of reviewing their product, as mentioned, Nuance is still considered the standard bearer — making the Epocrates and Nuance relationship unique.

If Epocrates is able to properly execute their electronic health record seamlessly across the iPhone, iPad, and their desktop software — they should have a hit.  Although, we’re still waiting on Epocrates to launch an iPad customized version of their basic app……so we’ll see.

Source: The Street