By Neil Versel
March 18, 2008 | Following recent news that drug-reference database vendor Epocrates will be one of the first companies to develop third-party software for the iPhone, a new report suggests the too-cool-for-words Apple product could be the killer app that finally brings physicians into the digital age en masse.
“Apple’s recent announcement that it is allowing third party developers to create applications on the iPhone will have tremendous effects on the health care industry,” says a report from IT market analysis firm Datamonitor (London). “Datamonitor believes that health care technology applications — particularly electronic health records (EHRs) and clinical decision support (CDS) — will be more likely to be adopted by physicians, translating into better health care for patients.”
On Friday, ahead of the Monday release of the report, New York-based Datamonitor analyst Christine Chang put out an independent commentary on the report itself, suggesting that mobile devices could “alleviate” the perceived notion that EHR adoption has been slow in part because computers in the exam room get in the way of the traditional physician-patient relationship.
“The iPhone, however, stands out from the rest of the currently available devices because of its functionality, ease of use and, quite frankly, appearance,” Chang wrote. “The iPhone’s functionality is undisputed — as a phone, camera, media device, and Web browser all in one device — who needs anything else? Health care providers don’t want to carry around a beeper, hospital-issued phone, cell phone, BlackBerry, and tablet PC with them as they run through the corridors of a hospital. They want to carry around one device that can do everything and that’s what the iPhone is.”
Added Chang: “With no little buttons to push, the iPhone’s touch screen brings easy-to-use technology to even the most technophobic provider. Zoom-in capabilities … and the ability to flick through screens are other features that will make it easier, rather than more difficult, for providers to enter in and sort through patient information.”
Chang also noted that the iPhone can connect to the Internet and organizational networks either by Wi-Fi or cellular broadband technology.
She cited the Epocrates decision to produce an iPhone version of its software as an example of how much physician demand there is for clinical applications that work on the Apple device.