Right before the release of the widely anticipated iOS 8 from Apple, VA Hospital physicians from across the clountry were e-mailed with the startling headline: “iPad and iPhone Users – DO NOT Perform iOS 8 Update.”

The email body describes:

“Citrix has identified compatibility issues between Apple iOS 8 and the Citrix Receiver. … Users … from an iPad or iPhone *SHOULD NOT* update their iOS or they will experience strange graphics effects such as dialogs not appearing properly on the phone or tablet screen.”

Furthermore, Citrix highlighted potential compatibility issues that could prevent users with iOS 8 from installing their applications that they use to load up their Electronic Medical Records(EMR) and radiology applications.

This is inexcusable. Citrix (also makers of GoToMeeting) is an industry leader of desktop virtualization, and the iOS 8 developer kit was released June 2, giving more than 3 months for potential bugs and incompatibility issues to surface and be fixed.

Unfortunately, while incredibly disappointing, compatibility issues with new releases of mainstream products and software revisions are not new to physicians and a medical field who depend heavily on accessing electronic medical records from personal devices. At a previous hospital where I worked, issues with Java crippled remote access for weeks for users who updated to the latest version of Mac OS X.

Many physicians incorporate their iPads into their daily workflow when it comes to reviewing updated labs, accessing imaging reports, and writing new patient notes — this is all made possible by using the Citrix app for iOS. Even slight inconveniences such as “strange graphics effects” or having to discover workarounds detailed in the Citrix bulletin severely impacts medical efficiency, especially for those who are already less technologically savvy.

Furthermore, while users of older iPads and iPhones can heed the caution of not updating to iOS 8, what about the 4 million people who pre-ordered the iPhone 6 and 6 plus that will come with iOS 8 pre-installed. In addition, ignoring the latest software updates can also have negative consequences, due to security patches often being included in such updates.

To be fair, the iOS 8 release date was met with compatibility issues from other popular software services, and even Apple’s own Healthkit had to delay third party synchronization due to bugs discovered at the last minute.

Regardless, companies like Citrix that are directly involved with accessing EMR’s should not be let off the hook for not fully supporting major software updates like iOS 8 from day one.

Editor’s update: As pointed out by Lee in the comments below, the Citrix incompatibility could have resulted from last-minute bugs introduced by the last beta build of iOS 8, and a potential solution is likely being held up by App Store approval delays. Check out the full explanation by Lee as it sheds light on the situation.