$$ - Mobile Clinical Software

Introduction

This article contains an overview of a selection of clinical applications designed specifically for mobile use. It concludes a two-part series on mobile computing for clinicians, which commenced in the May 2008 edition of Pulse+IT with an outline of the various categories of mobile hardware available on the market. As many of the devices outlined in the previous article are capable of running the same operating systems and applications found on full-sized laptops and desktop computers, this article will focus entirely on applications designed for mobile operating systems typically found on modern smart phones.

It should be noted that all smart phones are not created equal, with hardware manufacturers utilising a range of operating systems, input interfaces, and network connectivity options. Because of the diversity in the market, it is often not practical for developers to attempt to support all hardware and software combinations, most instead opting to concentrate on specific smart phone sub-markets.

While applications written for specific mobile operating systems are likely to be actively developed for some time, the author anticipates that mobile application developers will increasingly devote more of their attention to designing platform agnostic applications built using modern web technology. This transition will be assisted greatly by the increasingly sophisticated mobile data networks being deployed in Australia and around the globe.

Current Applications

Following is a selection of clinical applications designed specifically for smart phone operating systems:

Top Pocket

Designed as a mobile extension to the Best Practice clinical software solution by the company with the same name, Top Pocket is compatible with PDAs and smart phones running Windows Mobile 5.0 or later.

Top Pocket allows clinicians to download their address book contacts from their practice database, review and prescribe medications, view patient information, browse and modify a “To Do” list, and browse an integrated MIMS drug database.

EMDAT Mobile

EMDAT Mobile (which may be rebranded and onsold under different names by different transcription companies), is software that allows the user to dictate into their smart phone, and subsequently upload these recordings directly to a transcription service without having to first synchronise their smart phone with a computer.

Once transcribed, the text version of the dictation can be sent back to the smart phone for mobile verification and approval by the clinician. Pending approval, the transcription company would typically send the letter to the clinician’s practice software, where it can be printed or sent to the intended recipient using a secure messaging solution.

MIMS on PDA2

MIMS on PDA2 is a mobile version of the ubiquitous MIMS drug database for devices running Windows Mobile 5.0 or greater. An earlier version of MIMS on PDA is still sold and supported for older versions of Windows Mobile and the Palm OS.

Unlike its predecessor, MIMS on PDA2 integrates drug reference and drug interaction checking functionality into a single application, negating the need for users to have to switch between separate applications to access these features. The database is fully searchable, with clinicians able to query by drug name, therapeutic class, action and indication, or company name.

While the MIMS drug database has long been available on PDA, the latest version of the software takes advantage of modern 3G mobile networks, allowing the application to update its drug and interactions databases “over the air” each month without needing to synchronise with a desktop computer (although the option to update the databases using this method is also included).

Bill for Anaesthetists

Developed by Schmik, Bill for Anaesthetists is a web-based patient billing application designed with mobile devices in mind. As the clinician simply uses their smart phone’s web browser and the device’s Internet connection to access the system, no software or data need to be installed on the mobile device.

Bill for Anaesthetists can be used as a stand-alone application, or interfaced using web services to a practice, billing service, or hospital quoting and invoicing system. When interfaced, the solution allows daily theatre lists to be viewed on the smart phone, simplifying data entry for clinicians who only have to record procedure start and finish times, and any variation to the procedures outlined in the theatre list.

Periodically, the clinician’s nominated billing service or practice logs into the Schmik system to retrieve the Anaesthetist’s list of completed procedures, and invoices are subsequently raised.

Schmik has plans to extend Bill for Anaesthetists to make it suitable for use by other procedural specialists. In addition to populating the system with a wider range of MBS Item numbers, the ability to raise invoices and receipts directly from the mobile device and have these sent to the recipient electronically is slated for inclusion in the forthcoming product.

On the horizon

On 11th July, Apple released the second major iteration of its iPhone. Over 1 million of these 3G capable iPhones were sold on the first weekend of its release, which, unlike its predecessor, is officially available in Australia through numerous carriers.

Perhaps more significant than release of the iPhone itself was the launch of the “iPhone App Store”, a clearing house for Apple-sanctioned third-party software designed specifically for the iPhone. Over 10 million application downloads were registered at the App Store during its first weekend, the vast majority of which were freely available or priced at less than US$10.

At the time of writing, the App Store featured over 1,400 iPhone applications, approximately 400 of which were free. In addition to games, weather, finance, education, and social networking applications, a burgeoning “Healthcare and Fitness” category has been created. 60 applications have been published in this category to date, and while most of these are designed for healthcare consumers, a handful of clinician-centric utilities have emerged that highlight the emerging potential impact the iPhone (and other similarly capable devices) may have on the delivery of healthcare:

Mobile MIM

Not to be confused with the aforementioned MIMS drug database software, this clinical imaging application facilitates mobile multi-modality imaging display and fusion of various diagnostic image formats, including CT, PET, MRI and SPECT. Using the iPhone’s touch screen interface, clinicians can change image sets and planes, adjust the zoom level and control fusion blending.

Currently shipping with limited functionality, Mobile MIM is bundled with sample images to allow clinicians to experiment with the software’s user interface. According to the product’s website, “a fully featured MIM Pro for the iPhone, for physician and radiology use, will be available in the near future”.

Epocrates Rx

Epocrates Rx is a free US-centric drug reference and interaction checker application. Using an iPhone or another compatible smart phone, clinicians can view pharmacology information, in addition to photos of over 3,300 drugs included in the Epocrates Rx database.

The software also includes a “pill identifier”, which allows the user to attempt to identify a pill by entering its key characteristics (colour, shape, etc) into the software.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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