The concept of mobility in healthcare is nothing new to providers, vendors, and to Chilmark Research alike. The current media and investor buzz surrounding mHealth stems from the belief that 1) mobile technology has finally matured to a point where age-old healthcare processes can finally be revamped; and 2) mobile technology has not only matured but has actually been adopted en-mass by physicians and shows no signs of abating.
Doctors Love Smartphones, but are GaGa over the iPad
Recent reports from SpyGlass Consulting and Manhattan Research show that the vast majority of physicians already use smartphones. Pamela Dolan at the AMA has a nice commentary on these latest numbers. Chilmark Research’s recent talks with industry folks shows that the iPad is also gaining significant traction with physicians. At a recent conference in Denver where Chilmark Research attended and spoke, the CIO of Catholic Health Initiative (CHI) sees providing their doctors with mobile apps (in CHI’s case on the iPad) as critical to the success of complying with meaningful use requirements.
mHealth Apps in Acute Care
Given that physicians have now ‘gone mobile’, does this imply that they will no longer be satisfied with computers-on-wheels (COWs), demanding mobile access to every piece of data buried in Health Information Systems (HIS)? If so, providing doctors with mobile access to patient and hospital data could be just the perk needed to attract more affiliated physicians, satisfy existing ones and ultimately drive the adoption and use of HIT by clinicians.
Here is a brief look at the mHealth acute care vendor landscape:
- Pure play inpatient mobile solutions companies like PatientKeeper and MedAptus have built their businesses on providing clinicians with mobile apps, each having started with charge capture and quality measures. PatientKeeper expanded into CPOE with a limited roll-out that is scheduled to go GA in 2011. As the mHealth market continues to gain momentum, it will be interesting to follow the fate of these two companies.
- The big boys of HIS (Cerner, Eclipsys/Allscripts, Epic, GE Healthcare, McKesson, MEDITECH, Siemens) all have mHealth stories, albeit weak ones that revolve mostly around mobile browser access to their core EHR. Early this year Epic released the Haiku app to Apple’s AppStore, resulting in some fanfare from the tech community. Also, the Citrix Receiver app makes it possible to run Windows-based apps like McKesson and Cerner securely on the iPhone/iPad and Android, though with obvious usability issues associated with being a non-native app.
- Potential entrants/disruptors from outside the industry face a battle with the big boys, who seem to want to reduce mobility to an extra feature on their systems. Diversinet is making a play in secure doctor-doctor and doctor-patient communications for the enterprise. The company has made extensive investments to the tune of some $80M spent over the last decade developing IP in encryption and identity management.
mHealth Apps in Ambulatory
There are a multitude of physician content and productivity apps in the AppStore, from anatomical diagrams to medical calculators to ICD-9 lookup and arguably the most successful category, medical content apps.
Mobile medical content companies such as Epocrates and Medscape have had a presence on physicians’ phones/PDAs for years. We are closely following Epocrates’ expansion into the SaaS EHR market. If mobile EHR access is a truly compelling value proposition for ambulatory physicians (we aren’t convinced it is), then Epocrates may be able to leverage the brand’s mobile association and large, existing installed base to stand out from the 400+ competing EHR vendors.
A number of ambulatory EHR vendors (AllScripts, eClinicalWorks, Greenway and NextGen) have recently introduced their own EHR mobile apps, most built for Apple’s mobile OS and currently little being done for the Android mobile OS, though that may change as Android becomes an increasingly compelling alternative to Apple.
Dipping our research fingers into the mHealth market, Chilmark Research is launching a new initiative that will culminate in the report: Enterprise Adoption of mHealth apps: Trends, Issues and Challenges. Over the course of the next couple of months (target release date is in advance of NIH’s mHealth Summit in DC) we will interview executives from the major HIS vendors, best-of-breed vendors, tech entrants, and leading Hospitals/IDNs. Through both primary and secondary research we will answer such questions as:
- What top mobile apps are currently being adopted in the enterprise?
- What are the priority unmet needs among leading Hospitals/IDNs?
- What challenges are currently hindering adoption of mHealth apps in the enterprise?
In the meantime we will be posting every other week specifically to give updates on our mHealth research. Onward Ho!
Cora Sharma has a great background having received a BSc in Computer Science, worked in the software sector for several years and recently graduated from MIT’s Sloan School of Business. While at Sloan, Cora did an internship with McKesson where she found her calling, HIT and the desire to become an analyst.