EMR Growing Into Device App Arena

Electronic Medical RecordBoston Children’s Hospital’s Informatics team has come up with a standardized electronic medical record interface, which allows removable apps to draw specific data from existing EHR systems. This is a breakthrough at a time when every EMR company operates separately.

EHR has gained unprecedented prevalence in the healthcare sector, with electronic medical record apps now seeking to streamline the way patient health information is stored, accessed and implemented across multiple devices. Currently, if a hospital needs to highlight a portion of the patient’s medical information, or to flag any recent events, the EMR company has to come up with a respective software update. Said update would be required to be send to the system’s library, where it would be made available for download to each EP and EH using the Electronic Medical Record system.

Mandl, a Harvard professor in the BCH’s informatics program, says that an EHR should be “able to run an app that is substitutable. You can add it or delete it and you would get your apps from something like an app store”. The open market concept, if realized, would let software innovators make necessary changes to accommodate specific departmental requests and technology changes. This seems why Mandl and his team have placed their interface – named the SMART (Substitutable Medical Apps and Reusable Technology) program – as a free program. Use of such apps also lets creators push in the relevant information inside a patient’s diagnosis.

The SMART program has been four years in the making, funded by a $15 million grant from the federal government in 2010, and in collaboration with their EHR provider, Cerner. The team is currently developing base apps to demonstrate the function of the interface. Intermountain Healthcare, a healthcare organization based in Utah, is also moving to the Cerner system as well as using the SMART program technology.

Other takers include Healthcare Corporation of America, a Nashville-based collective of 165 hospitals and 115 freestanding surgery centers, who are currently transitioning to the SMARTEHR Systems technology. The organization will begin releasing own apps next year.

The SMART program has been backed by AARP, Surescripts, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, etc., and all these have joined a committee to support the product. Electronic Medical Record apps may become even more common than they are now, if the next Stage of Meaningful Use includes their implementation as an objective.


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