Friday, October 22, 2010

Innovative Electronic Health Record Takes a Bite Out of Apple

At the beginning of this year Kevin Pho, MD, Tom Gehring, CEO of the San Diego Medical Society, and myself discussed the iPad and its potential impact on healthcare in a piece published by HealthLeaders Media. As Kevin said, "The iPad could serve as a simple digital electronic medical record system that communicates easily with pharmacies and other medical record systems." Well now ClearPractice has accomplished this feat with its new Nimble EHR, an innovative technology delivered via SaaS. Nimble is an EHR solution that connects either through Wi-Fi or 3G to the ClearPractice cloud so no data is stored on the device, making it secure and HIPAA compliant. The application contains all the features of the company's existing SaaS based EMR solution including scheduling, charting, prescribing, inpatient rounds, lab review/ordering, messaging and more. The product also seamlessly integrates with the company's practice management and billing system so all charges are automatically captured, scrubbed, and electronically submitted for payment.

I spoke with Joel Andersen, the President of ClearPractice and discussed this new EHR designed specifically for the iPad. "We didn't just reproduce our existing EMR system on iPad, we actually designed the application for the iPad, taking advantage of the intuitive nature of the iOS platform." said Joel. "Regardless of whether they are at the hospital, the clinic or at home, the Nimble provides doctors instant access to the information and patient care tools they need. The point of care is now everywhere."

"John Doerr, a venture capitalist and board member of ClearPractice, was the visionary for this product," said Joel. "He viewed the iPad as a transformational device for healthcare." Because of John, ClearPractice was able to have unprecedented access to Apple, and worked to design the software taking full advantage of the celebrated ease of use that Apple products provide. Nimble appears to be more intuitive than the traditional point and click EHR solution allowing for a more meaningful point of care usage.

ClearPractice believes the only problem the HITECH Act immediately addressed was cost. And the meaningful use standards and certification criteria do not address usability. Many of the traditional EHRs can often slow physician workflow and actually impede adoption and meaningful use. With Nimble, they are looking to reshape and simplify the user experience for doctors. One of the goals of Nimble is to break down workflow burdens for doctors by providing them with technology that is lightweight, has a longer battery life and doesn't need to be rebooted as often. They are on track to have the software certified by Drummond for meaningful use before year's end.

"There are 560,000 office based physicians in the U.S. Seventy percent are in small practices and most still use paper-based records. The iPad will transform healthcare IT, and Nimble is the game changer: it gives doctors real-time information to better serve vital patient needs," said John Doerr. I have to admit that this is going to be very attractive to many physician practices. ClearPractice is targeting that sweet spot of clinics with ten or fewer providers. And the biggest downloaders of the free trial version to test the application? Medical school students...

E-prescribing is an important element of meaningful use and has proven value to clinicians. The Nimble eRx solution presents context-specific integrated clinical decision support giving providers visibility into the cost, efficacy, and adverse effects of various medication-based therapeutic alternatives. And you can even send a prescription directly from your iPhone. But you don't just get access to eRx, but a robust mobile EHR. Imagine having secure access to review patient charts, write new prescriptions or refill medications, view appointment schedules, and review and sign-off lab results on your iPhone. You can even send and receive messages with your clinical staff on the mobile app.

Physician practices are not the only ones interested in Nimble. ClearPractice is also reaching out to hospitals who are looking to better serve their associated physicians through integrated acute and ambulatory EHR technology. And they are developing ways for health plans to inform and empower their physician network through data enriched EHR technology. They are working with their sister company, Lumeris, to develop robust interoperability between the Lumeris Maestro product and Nimble (I will be writing another post on the forthcoming announcement). Obviously, they are positioning themselves to enable technology solutions in Accountable Care Organizations and those working to move toward the medical home model of care.

So far, the product seems to be a hit with physicians. Said Lianna Lawson, MD, of Lawson Family Medicine and Aesthetics in Daleville, Va., said: "I can actually give my patients better service because I am able to obtain information so quickly. Before, these tasks took much longer because I had to access this information from desktop. Now I carry my iPad around with me and I’m no longer keeping my patients waiting. There is no doubt, my patients expect quick response times and I am able to provide that because my productivity in the office is now extended outside the office. I can go anywhere and work at anytime. Honestly, I work more efficiently than I ever did and my patients love me a little bit more."