Despite the ongoing move to electronic health records (EHRs) in health care, many doctors still prefer to print out documents and make annotations on hard copy. Chen Medical, a Florida-based health system for seniors, has turned to PrintMe Mobile from Electronics for Imaging (EFI) to do just that.
Since many of its users are low-income seniors who lack a computer or the knowledge to go online to access health records, Chen Medical providers must print out records from EFI's PrintMe Mobile platform to allow the patients to access their medical information, according to EFI.
"A lot of doctors and patients are very paper-driven, and we want to cater to just about every way of input that we can," said Cas Mollien, vice president of infrastructure and interim security officer at Chen Medical, which equipped 150 physicians with tablets. Most of the tablets are iPads, but Chen Medical is also using some Android devices.
"So we have a lot of doctors that print out papers that need a signature, that need certain information that needs to be available on paper," Mollien told eWEEK.
After doctors or medical assistants finish reviewing a record on paper, they scan the image back into the EHR at the nearest scanner or printer, Mollien said. "It's immediately available inside the application again," he said.
Mollien noted that some applications on Chen Medical's computer network haven't been "ported over" to a newer system to support medical devices, so some records need to be printed out. "The best and easiest way to intercept that is to go back to paper in certain cases while this is being restored," Mollien said.
Although Chen Medical still needs to print out health records from its EHRs, the big paper files with colored labels are "completely gone," Mollien said.
Still, the "paperless" doctor's office doesn't seem to be happening quite yet, Mollien suggested. "The paperless office is a fantastic idea, and we've been talking about it for the past 20 years," he said. "I still have to see the first office that's really completely paperless."
Some doctors prefer to print out medical records, referrals and forms and highlight important notes on paper rather than filling them out on a virtual keyboard's tablet, Mollien said.
"Certain doctors find it easier to fill out boxes on a piece of paper rather than going through an electronic form," Mollien said.
Chen Medical has close to 25 facilities, including medical offices in Florida, Kentucky, New Orleans and Virginia. It plans to open another 11 or 12 practices within the next three or four months. The company has deployed more than 10 tablets per location and is considering plans to put more than 350 tablets into use for doctors and medical assistants, Mollien said.
Although PrintMe Mobile has the capability to print from mobile phones as well as tablets, Chen Medical finds the small form factor of handsets limiting, Mollien said.
"The screen size is so small that use of it is not something we've really worked on," he said.
Regarding the mobile printing platform, Mollien said, "the most important feature is that it prints when I press the print button; everything else is just for show."
PrintMe Mobile allows users to print documents from hundreds of printers regardless of their brand, EFI noted.
"Enabling mobile printing in an enterprise environment that consists of various printers is often a challenge for IT due to multiple operating systems and variables in printer hardware," Darin Stahl, lead research analyst for Info-Tech Research Group, said in a statement.
PrintMe Mobile allows medical practices to search, filter, tag and import/export data as well as identify, configure and check printer statuses from a central dashboard.
In addition, PrintMe supports WiFi mobile printing across multiple OS environments. On iOS, the printing software uses the device's native print function, but on Android, users must download the Android app.