Epocrates, a developer of medical reference software, has expanded its offerings into the EHR (electronic health record) space. Medical practices of 10 or fewer physicians can now access its health record application on the Apple iPhone, iPod Touch and from the Web.
The company announced the application, called Epocrates EHR, July 27.
The SaaS (software as a service) product will allow doctors to record notes from patient exams, integrate data from labs and prescribe medication electronically. A Task Manager appears on all screens in the software to helps doctors manage their workflow. They can use the tool to manage email, refill prescriptions and order lab tests.
Remotely, doctors can access patient records and schedule appointments. Epocrates also provides a reference database on diseases and prescription drugs.
In addition, the vendor offers educational tools related to codes and medical terms and allows doctors to check for drug interactions. The vendor links its mobile applications to Walgreens' discount medication list.
In the initial rollout of its EHR software, Epocrates will focus on small physician practices. "Based on our decade-long legacy of developing point-of-care solutions, we are in an ideal position to systematically build and introduce a solution geared toward the needs of solo and small group practices," Rose Crane, president and CEO of Epocrates, said in a statement.
In product updates, Epocrates will add additional functionality based on the federal government's meaningful-use guidelines. "In future phases, we will introduce capabilities that support and engage patients, such as the patient portal, and other features that align with the meaningful-use criteria," Crane wrote in an email to eWEEK.
In November Epocrates acquired Modality, a health care software developer, to enhance its presence on the Apple iOS platform. Although the company was unable to give a timeline, it also plans versions for the iPad and Google Android devices.
"We will design for each digital platform based on what makes sense with the physician's workflow. For example, physicians may view charts on their iPhone, choose from drop-down menus on the iPad and type online to enter charts," Crane said.
Epocrates encrypts all patient data and stores it in multiple server locations, the company reports.
When building its EHR software, Epocrates sought feedback from users of its other health care applications. "We have incorporated physician feedback throughout the development process to ensure every design element fits easily into the physicians' workflow and contributes to better patient outcomes," Crane said. "We can envision a future where our EHR solution is the nucleus of physician and patient communication and education."
The text-to-speech features of DrChrono's EHR app for the iPad are also designed to limit interruptions during patient exams and improve communication between doctors and patients.
As physicians adopt EHR applications to satisfy federal mandates on meaningful use of health records, the software may not necessarily improve the quality of patient care, according to a recent report by Stanford University researchers.
Still, both mobile technology and EHRs will lead to 24 percent growth in health care IT, research firm RNCOS reports.