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by Gaby Loria,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: February 13, 2017


Apple’s iPad is making rounds in healthcare. Its ergonomic design, long battery life and beautiful user interface (UI) gives other tablets a run for their money. As the iPad is grows in popularity among physicians, more and more EHR vendors are releasing iPad-specific versions of their EMRs. Some offer native iPad EMRs; others offer web browser access through the iPad.

But, there’s no perfect iPad EMR solution. Each type of deployment has its benefits and drawbacks. In this guide we review the three main iPad EMR options:

Web-based EMRs. These systems are used through a web browser and can be accessed through the iPad’s Safari browser. They offer various benefits as well as convenience to users.

Remote-access EMRs. Most client/server on-premise EMRs can be accessed from a remote system, including iPads, through utilities, such as Citrix. Though this isn’t ideal, it works.

Native iPad EMRs. These are probably what you want most—a slick app developed just for the iPad—but the options are very limited so far. You may have to wait a while.

Web-based EMRs

Until more native iPad EMRs hit the market, we think physicians are best off using web-based EMRs. There are a number of viable web-based systems in the market, so physicians will be able to find one that has capabilities for their size and type of practice (e.g., WebPT for physical therapists).

Also, many web-based EMR vendors have received ONC-ATCB certification. This is a requirement for doctors who want to receive HITECH Act funds.

To see a full list of options, visit our Web-based EMR guide.

EMRs with Remote Access

As noted in our table above, several leading vendors offer remote access to their EMR. Using this deployment model, your EMR runs on a server (likely in your IT closet), but is remotely displayed on the iPad over a network. There isn’t really an EMR application running on the iPad. Instead, the remote access application is allowing you to view the application as if you were at a desktop or laptop.

This approach will allow you to access Allscripts, GE Centricity or any other number of major EMR systems. However, you’ll be seeing the usual Windows UI, not an iPad interface. This means you’re not taking full advantage of the iPad’s slick UI (the reason you bought the iPad to begin with). It’s a little kludgy, but it works.

Native iPad EMRs

The third option is to purchase a native iPad EMR app. However, options are fairly limited; we’ve only identified a few such native apps, such as Dr. Chrono, Nimble, Mediforms, MediMobile, IQMax and Capzule EMR. Dr. Chrono and Nimble are the most impressive (and attractive); they do the kind of stuff the iPad was designed to do. For example, Nimble has an application called “Medical Art” that allows doctors to view and markup images (e.g., X-Rays, EKGs and anatomical diagrams) with the swipe of a finger. It’s a great tool for educating patients and communicating diagnoses.

These systems make great use of the design elements that lead to a fluid user experience on the relatively smaller, touchscreens of tablets. (To read more about general design considerations when it comes to EHRs, see our guide on medical software interfaces.)

Patient registration in NueMD

Patient registration in NueMD

Unfortunately, native iPad EMRs can have drawbacks too. Many of them have limited functionality. Physicians can perform basic tasks, such as capture billing charges, view a patient record or track patient schedules.

But, some native iPad EMRs don’t offer a complete set of features that other web-based and on-premise EMRs offer. This is mostly because these apps are new to the market. It took years, even decades, for the leading EMRs to offer the depth of functionality they now offer. iPad app startups aren’t going to catch up anytime soon.

Common Features

Scheduling: Medical professionals can view and manage their schedules directly from their iPads. The scheduling feature can be used by both patients and doctors to find free slots, specify clinic locations and manage clinic capacity. You can add and edit appointments, manage multiple locations and create schedules for single or multiple providers.

Billing: Cloud-based and native EMR apps support billing, invoicing and collections features as well. The medical billing features also help you manage insurance and patient payments. Advanced billing features can help you generate reports and manage accounts receivables and claims.

Document management: Healthcare practices need to maintain a large volume of documents. Document management features help manage EMRs and images and reduce records retention costs. Electronic document storage and management features eliminate the need for off-site storage facility. The app should be able to handle multiple file types and may also offer document scanning capabilities.

Patient charts and notes: EMR iPad applications help create digital versions of patient charts that include their whole medical history and previous diagnosis and treatments. This feature helps track and store patient data and access them from anywhere. Physicians can also add notes about patients that will be stored for future use. Many EMR software offer customizable templates that help you choose the fields required for patient charts and notes.

e-Prescribing: This feature sends prescriptions to patients and pharmacies over the internet. e-Prescribing reduces medication errors, reviews previous prescriptions, searches for pharmacy locations and provides alerts regarding drug allergies, dosage levels and duplicates. It allows doctors to create and refill prescriptions, view dosage history, contact pharmacies and manage medications.

Alerts and reminders: EMR applications send appointment reminders to patients via text messages or email. This automates the routine task of sending reminders about upcoming appointments and reduces revenue loss due to no shows.

HIPAA compliance: Using HIPAA-compliant EMR applications is essential in complying with federal regulations. While choosing an EMR application, you should ensure that it is compliant with all aspects of HIPAA regulation and has all the latest updates.

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