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Cerner Corporation (CERN), Apple Inc. (AAPL), Nuance Communications Inc. (NUAN): How Mobile EHR Apps Can Revolutionize and Mobilize Health Care

According to a recent survey from Black Book Rankings, demand for mobile EHR, or electronic health record, solutions is extremely high, with 83% of surveyed physicians stating that they would use mobile EHR apps if more options became available. The survey found that only 8% of physicians currently use a mobile device for EHR functions, indicating significant market potential for new mobile EHR apps.

However, only three of Black Book’s top 10 ranked EHR mobile applications — Greenway‘s PrimeMOBILE, NextGen‘s EHR Mobile and Cerner Corporation (NASDAQ:CERN)‘s customized EHR apps — are developed by publicly traded companies.

Nuance Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:NUAN)

The challenges of developing mobile EHR solutions
Unlike mobile apps from retailers, EHR companies cannot simply repackage a website as an app and release it. Mobile EHR apps must be built from the ground up since tablets are not optimized to include all the powerful features that the desktop version has. Tablets have smaller displays and less processing power, rely on slower wireless connections, and require optimized graphical user interface designs for touchscreens.

Yet tablets have their own strengths, such as unparalleled mobility, built-in cameras, and microphones for speech recognition. To tap into these features, companies have to approach tablets as a completely new platform to create exclusive mobile features.

The appeal of going native
According to a survey from Manhattan Research, 72% of physicians are using an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, making it the main piece of hardware to watch in the EHR space.

The iPad’s greatest advantage over Android competitors is that each generation has identical hardware and software, meaning that apps can be easily tested and developed for the platform. By comparison, the Android tablet market is fragmented, with multiple vendors creating a plethora of hardware combinations — making it difficult for app developers to create a single app that works flawlessly across all platforms and configurations.

This has led to more demand for native iPad EHR apps, such as drchrono, which was completely designed with the iPad in mind. Other non-native apps, in contrast, focus on using the iPad as an extension of the desktop-based EHR, acting as a “second screen.” By cutting out the desktop completely and relying on cloud-based synchronization instead, native iPad EHR apps — of which there are currently only a handful — could give physicians unparalleled freedom and mobility. Merely using three iPads could also replace a computer on wheels at a hospital and save more than $6,000, according to CareCloud’s Ahmed Mori.

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