Apple iPad Application Eases Patient Registration in Doctors' Offices

An Apple iPad application from MacPractice allows patients to register in a doctor's office and then transfers the data into practice-management software and EHRs.

MacPractice, a developer of practice-management and clinical software for Apple devices, has released an application for the iPad, called Clipboard, to streamline patient registration.

Based in Lincoln, Neb., MacPractice offers practice-management applications for the Mac, iPhone and iPad in four separate versions: MD for physicians, DDS for dentists, DC for chiropractors and 20/20 for eye doctors.

By having patients electronically enter their information themselves, physician practices will be able to cut down on data-entry errors, MacPractice reports.

Clipboard also allows patients to read and sign HIPAA privacy forms on the iPad.

"This particular app is aptly described by the name: It's the clipboard," Mark Hollis, president of MacPractice, told eWEEK. "You've been handed the clipboard ... and that's exactly what this product is intended to do-is to allow you to be able to fill those forms out on the iPad."

When a patient enters information, it flows automatically into a doctor's practice-management applications and EHRs (electronic health records).

"It's shared data-there's an intersection of the data that's used in the practice management that's also used in the EMR [electronic medical record]," Hollis said.

With EHR applications built into a practice-management suite, patients need only enter their name, address, date of birth and sex once, Hollis explained. Once the data is in a practice's database, the information can be used for tasks such as booking appointments, printing insurance forms or filing claims electronically.

With doctors able to carry around iPads running practice-management applications, they can replace the 3-by-5-inch cards they've often brought back and forth between offices and hospitals to keep track of patient visits, Hollis said.

The software also includes a reminder feature for staff in a doctor's office to communicate what might need to be done for a patient.

Currently, 3,600 practices use the Mac version of MacPractice's software. The company announced the Clipboard iPad version on May 11 and has rolled out a beta release on iTunes for about 100 customers, Hollis said.

In October, MacPractice introduced an iPad version of its practice-management software that includes e-prescribing. Doctors can also upload photos of patients.

Although an iPad and its touch screen may not be able to replace all features of a PC in a doctor's office, patient interest calls for its use, Hollis said.

"The iPad is still not the best device for doing everything in a medical office," Hollis said, while noting that its main purpose is to serve as more of a viewer than a data-entry unit. "You can't see as much data on an iPad as you can see on the Mac."

But for the small amount of information patients enter when they register at a doctor's office, iPads are sufficient, he said.

Still, 30 percent of physicians are using iPads to enter data into EHRs, view X-rays and stay in touch with patients, according to a recent report by Manhattan Research. Of the doctors the firm surveyed, 28 percent planned to purchase an iPad in the next six months.

In addition, 79 percent of doctors preferred the iPad compared with competing tablets, a March survey by research firm Aptilon revealed.