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Doctors use iPads, iPhones for medical records

BY MADISON BENNETT | APRIL 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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Want to access your patients’ medical records from your iPhone or iPad?

There’s an app for that.

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics officials are in the process of testing “Canto” and “Haiku,” Apple-compatible applications that will enable physicians to access medical records straight from their iPads and iPhones, respectively.

Officials will be likely implement the applications in October with the new upgrade of the Epic patient-records software, said Assistant Professor Douglas Van Daele, the chief medical information officer for UI Health Care.

When physicians started using Epic in 2006, the software cost the UIHC $60 million, which included software, hardware, and implementation experts. Now, the hospital only pays annual maintenance fees.

Fees for Canto and Haiku will hinge upon the UIHC’s clinical volume.

Though one expert raised concerns regarding the security of portable medical records, physicians hope Epic applications will make accessing information less intrusive and will allow a more natural interaction between patient and physician, said Lee Carmen, the associate vice president for .

“Ultimately it would be really ideal if the physicians could have something similar to a notepad,” Carmen said. “While they’re going bedside-to-bedside, being able to look up the textual date, but also images, and patient education information.”

Clinical Professor Chris Goerdt said he uses Epic constantly and said he thinks the ability for records to be portable is great.

Though he doesn’t own one of his own, he has used other physicians’ iPads, and he said the ability to order medication, access patient records, and pull up X-rays is very worthwhile.

The MyChart Apple application, implemented a couple weeks ago, allows patients to access their medical history, appointment times, and lab results via the Internet. The application will help patients stay connected to their health care, Van Daele said.

“The advantages are the patient has direct access to their charts,” Goerdt said.

Federal laws require doctors to give patients access to results within four to five working days, and doctors can send the information through MyChart.

“[The applications] give a panoramic view of each individual patient,” said Eric Topol, the director of Scripps Translational Science Institute. “It’s the future.”

Despite some officials’ praise of the applications, some have expressed concerns regarding the security of confidential patient information.

“Whenever you have data portable like that, you then are able to unwittingly foster a breach of security, and that’s a primary concern,” Topol said.

But officials said if devices are ever misplaced or lost, proper measures are in place to prevent any kind of breach, including password protection and encryption of information.

Goerdt said that as an out-patient physician, getting an iPad just for accessibility would be excessive.

“I have a 15- to 17-inch computer screen in each room, so I’m able to see my patients very well,” he said. “With the iPad, I’d be looking down at my desk … and it’s much easier to use a keyboard.”

But, overall, physicians said they’re happy with the direction of electronic medicine.

“Patients have been more involved with their test results,” Goerdt said. “It’s allowed them to be more proactive in their health care.”


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