Practice Fusion Demos Native EHR App for iPhone, Android

Practice Fusion plans to expand its Web-based EHR platform with native iOS and Android versions.

Practice Fusion plans to launch native iPhone and Android versions of its electronic health record (EHR) application within a couple of months. The company demoed versions of the EHR for iOS and Android on Sept. 27 at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco.

Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals will be able to access EHRs using a cell or WiFi connection.

More than 80 percent of doctors are using smartphones, according to Manhattan Research, with 75 percent of physicians preferring Apple products.

Practice Fusion offers a free Web-based EHR application. Currently, to access Practice Fusion on a mobile device, users must log in through the Web version using a LogMeIn remote-access tool. LogMeIn allows workers to log into, manage and support systems, servers or handheld devices remotely.

Health care professionals such as house call nurses use a Web browser to access the desktop version of Practice Fusion on an iPad. With a native application for the iPad coming by February 2012, users will no longer need to use LogMeIn.

"Our goal is nothing less than reinventing what EMR is to doctors," Ryan Howard, CEO of Practice Fusion, told eWEEK.

Using what the company describes as a "mobile medical office," doctors can remotely view patient medical charts and lab results as well as send secure messages to patients and fill prescriptions electronically.

Kellie Menendez, senior director of marketing at Practice Fusion, and her team have been working on the graphic design and user experience for the iPhone app.

"I think our mobile strategy was always to go native and really focus on workflow and user interaction that a doctor would do outside of the office as well as in the office," Menendez told eWEEK.

Practice Fusion sees the native iOS and Android apps being used out on a golf course or somewhere away from the office to help doctors view patients' medical histories, allergy information and medication schedules. They can also message patients about lab results or refill a prescription electronically.

With its native smartphone apps, Practice Fusion is looking to limit the amount of time doctors use smartphones in the exam room. However, the larger screen of the iPad is more ideal for use in the exam room, according to Practice Fusion.

"The goal is to streamline the patient visit and allow you to pay more attention to the patient," Menendez said. "Having a native touch application for the patient visit on the iPad will really just streamline that process."

Practice Fusion's release of the native apps for iOS and Android will be part of a multitiered mobile strategy.

"This prototype is the next step we promised our mobile-hungry medical community," Howard said. "Soon, our doctors will access their free EMR accounts anytime, anywhere securely with a free iPhone app."

Alan Cooper, a software designer known as the "Father of Visual Basic" and for humanizing technology, is working with Practice Fusion to design the mobile apps.

The health care IT industry will grow 24 percent from 2012 to 2014 due to spending on EHRs and mobile health, according to global research firm RNCOS.

Meanwhile, IBM and Nuance are exploring ways innovate with voice and text in EHRs on mobile devices. IBM is using its Watson supercomputer along with Nuance's clinical voice communication to pull medical data from EHRs on handhelds.