Spok upgrades mobile app to integrate messages into EMRs


Critical communications specialist Spok has released version 4.1 of its Spok Mobile secure texting app, featuring a new mobile application programming interface (API) that will allow information contained in messages to be sent to electronic medical records and saved on the patient's file.

The new version also features integrations with three popular mobile device management (MDM) solutions – AirWatch, MobileIron and Citrix's XenMobile – as well as integration with cloud storage service Box.

Spok's senior product manager for the Asia Pacific region, Jim Cikanek, said the company had a number of clients in the US that were starting to deploy Box accounts to their clinicians for workplace purposes.

What the new Box integration will allow is the ability to easily attach a document, image or video stored in a Box account to a secure message, he said.

Spok has also integrated with wearable devices such as Android smartwatches and is also working on a similar integration with the new Apple Watch. These integrations will allow clinicians to receive 'rich' notifications of a critical message and to respond to it on their wearable device, Mr Cikanek said.

“Any Android device that runs the Android Wear software – there is a whole list of those – our software will push rich notifications to those,” he said. “Rich notifications [for Android] gives you the ability to see the message on your device, accept or decline, and to reply. You are getting more than an alert that you have a new message.

“On the Apple side, as it is brand new we allow the notifications side but we don't currently support rich notifications. Apple will be launching a new SDK shortly that will give it more functionality and allow us to build a separate application that actually rides on the wearable device. At that point we'll be able to do the rich notifications just like Android.”

Mr Cikanek said Spok's new mobile to mobile integration API was built with the need to integrate with EMRs in mind. Rather than integrate with a specific EMR provider, it became obvious that Spok was better off building an API to expose the Spok Mobile messaging application to any third-party mobile application, he said.

“What this allowed us to do is build one API that many third-party applications can call without us having to do many integrations or integrate multiple times to different EMRs,” he said. “The healthcare industry is becoming mobile and there are a lot of mobile applications out there.”

He said the key to the use of the Spok Mobile API for EMR providers was the ability to call the Spok directory straight from the third-party app. One of Spok's points of difference, he said, is integration with staff directories and on-call scheduling systems as well as the ability to receive HL7 and Active Directory feeds.

“Content can be securely passed from that third-party application into Spok Mobile,” he said. “The same way that we use to pass messages from one mobile device to another, it uses that encryption when it is passing from one mobile app to another mobile app.

“You can then take any information from those messages and push it back through the API to that third-party application. So if it is an EMR, any patient information can be passed from the Spok Mobile application through the API back to that EMR and onto the patient's record.”

Mr Cikanek said Spok had predominantly been working on this EMR integration with customers using the Epic EMR in the US, but has also been working with Allscripts and some customers using Cerner.

“We are just releasing this out so it hasn't been widely adopted yet,” he said, "but we are working with some customers using Cerner who are looking to do things like pass images into the patient file.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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