iPads are the 'new stethoscope' and every doctor needs one...

Apple is becoming an essential ingredient in modern health provision

Apple, drchrono, iPad, iPhone, health, digital health, healthcare, iOS
Credit: Drchrono/Flickr

You can choose to ignore it, but the move to put iOS inside healthcare is gathering so much momentum it’s a triumph of ignorance over good sense to do so.

With over seven million electronic healthcare records (EHR) in its iOS-compatible medical platform, drchrono illustrates the growing status of iOS-based solutions in modern healthcare. I spoke with COO and co-founder, Daniel Kivatinos.

iPad at the doctors

Kivatinos is keen to chat because his company has recently become an Apple mobility partner and has just introduced an improved Kiosk app patients can use for check-in and learn more about their condition.

The app means we’ll see iPads quickly replace existing check-in solutions, particularly as doctors can also use these to explain health conditions and offer public health protection advice to surgery visitors.

“We are excited to be a part of this initiative and are confident this relationship will help us accelerate the adoption of our fully integrated mobile EHR solution on iPhone and iPad that improves patient care while maximizing productivity and revenue collection for healthcare providers,” Kivatinos said.

“Every patient in the world should be able to access their medical record from their phone,” he said.

Health records are modernizing

Drchrono is well known for its work creating standards- and regulatory-compliant electronic health records suitable for the mobile age.

These records preserve patient confidentiality while being suitable to migrate between different EHR systems and for access from mobile devices.

(Apple needs standardized EHR systems in place if it wants to fully realize the potential of health pattern data analytics that its interest in was hinted at by its recent Gliimpse acquisition).

All the same, not every EHR is equal, and the last few years has seen a lot of work take place to begin to harmonize a sector previously characterized by a lack of standards and different levels of capability.

This has caused some frustration among medical professionals. “Doctors shouldn't have to fumble around an app for hours trying to find data,” said Kivatinos. “Our goal is to allow a doctor to find what they need with a few taps on iPad or iPhone.”

Digital doctors

The difference that making records more effective makes is quite significant.

“It is hard to find information in older complex medical records software and the software a large percent of the time is only accessible in one location,” he explained.

“Enabling patients, family members, and providers, access to a modern app that allows everyone to keep up to date, track health and make more informed decisions,” makes a difference.

“Do you know when you had your last tetanus shot? Most people don't and don't know where to find the information, a patient's medical information should be readily accessible on their phone in an emergency situation,” he explains.

According to industry estimates, by 2018, 50 percent of the more than 3.4 billion smartphone and tablet users will be using mobile health applications.

Bad science

One big challenge as health provision becomes digital is figuring out which apps are actually good for you, and which are based on bad, flawed, or dated, science.

The FDA in the US has made some announcements that suggest tighter regulation in future and these are slowly being matched in other countries, but right now the onus is on users to check solutions for themselves.

Kivatinos urges doctors to use certified apps. Consumers should talk to doctors, check reviews and scan existing literature regarding apps.

“For example, if a consumer wanted to find a blood pressure cuff that connects to their iOS device, they should look for something that is FDA approved and recommended by their physician,” he tells me.

Future development

There seems little doubt that the digitization of healthcare will continue. This will also lead to more integration between health and related apps, similar to the integration between drchrono and Box.

“We will see more and more apps leveraging Apple hardware and the new features of iOS as they come out, allowing more context through things such as Apple’s 3D Touch navigation,” he said.

Medical devices are also evolving.

“One interesting trend that I see happening is healthcare and "IoTs" or "Internet of Things.” More and more devices are coming out every day, amazing devices that save physicians time, like the FDA-approved Bluetooth connected Stethoscope from Eko,” he explained.

Apple’s presence within the sector continues to grow:

“We see a healthcare renaissance happening. With thousands of new companies modernizing the healthcare space, from app companies, to hardware companies pushing the boundaries of what doctors can do, there will be a future modern medical toolkit for doctors, with iPad and iPhone in that tool set,” he said.

In other words, iOS devices are becoming the new stethoscope.

Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?

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