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An EHR Goes Mobile: athenahealth Keeps Physicians Moving

by Lisa Cali, Manager, Product Innovation

What do physicians want out of their EHR? The answers can be both simple and complex, but one element seems to be a growing necessity: the ability to be mobile. According to Edna Boone, senior director of mHIMSS, the mobile health initiative behind HIMSS, "30% of physicians are using smartphones and tablets to treat patients."

Earlier this summer, athenahealth brought this ease and convenience to our providers, with the much-anticipated athenaClinicals® iPhone app, marking our entry into the growing space of mHealth (that’s app jargon for “mobile health,” by the way). Physicians with athenaClinicals can now use their iPhones to easily access medical records, view their schedules, send prescriptions and work their tasks (including managing test results and notes).

The Power of Feedback

Who did our expert user experience teams rely on to make the app as great as possible? Our physician clients, of course. Over the past year, the athenahealth mobile product team integrated physician feedback into the app’s design and development, running numerous qualitative usability studies, broad-based surveys and pilot programs with physicians. Those participating came from diverse specialties and a wide range of practice sizes.

Early on, the team learned that physicians expected to use the app, well, just about everywhere. From the sidelines of soccer games, their kitchens, even their cars. We learned that physicians expected the app to augment their athenaClinicals electronic health records service, but not replace  communication with staff, or the depth of access they have from their office laptops or desktops.

These clear priorities allowed the team to focus on physicians's EHR needs while they’re on the move or on-call, situations where they may need to order medications, sign off on orders remotely, and work their clinical inbox. The result of the valuable feedback we received from representative physicians across the athenahealth network is, what we believe to be, a truly beneficial mobile experience. With thousands of current users on our iPhone app, it's clear the upfront research identified just what physicians wanted.

Benefits for Physicians

The athenaClinicals app is more than just a way to view patient information on demand. We designed it to help physicians be more productive when out of the office, so they can turn tasks around faster and provide quality care from any location. “Our goal was always to build an app that was truly easy for physicians to use, and to provide them with an experience that they expect on a mobile device,” says Mary Kate Foley, athenahealth's Vice President of User Experience.

iPad users will be happy to hear that athenahealth is keeping the mobile momentum going—we’re planning athenaClinicals functionality for iPad, to be available early 2013.  And we're devoted to creating this additional value for athenahealth clients at no additional cost, with absolutely no licensing fees.

Have you used the athenaClinicals EHR iPhone application? Let us know your experiences. We’d love to hear more from you.

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