June 2010




An app for ophthalmologists on-the-go

by Enette Ngoei EyeWorld Staff Writer


Eye surgeons with iPhones get greater remote access to their practices

As iPhone use continues to proliferate, several technology businesses have come up with applications (apps) that give physicians access to patient information while away from the clinic.

Patient contact information, prescription history, appointment history, and electronic medical records (EMR) are just some of the information clinicians can access remotely through these iPhone applications.

One company, MacPractice Inc. (Lincoln, Neb.), says that what distinguishes them from other developers is that they’re the primary developers for practice management systems on the Macintosh platform. Their product, the MacPractice iPhone Interface 2.0, is an extension of the comprehensive MacPractice management software that includes EMR as an option, according to Mark Hollis, president of MacPractice.

“We are the primary developer that is leveraging Apple’s legendary ease and reliability of use for a doctor’s practice,” he said. “We’re not a PC developer that is using Apple’s technology on the iPhone to access its PC-developed product.”

With more than 27 years of experience developing software for ophthalmologists, the company has produced an app that allows the doctor to be able to go outside of the office and access information that’s in his or her practice management software in the office.

Reminders on the iPhone create MacPractice reminders in the office for staff and providers to request an appointment or as a way to make a clinical note for MacPractice EMR. Practice owners may monitor what is happening in the office from the hospital or the golf course by viewing up-to-date daily management reports, according to the company’s press release.

Another example of a situation in which this might be useful, Mr. Hollis said, would be if the doctor gets a call from a patient and the message is garbled, he or she would be able to pull up the patient’s prescription history and see if the patient was perhaps calling for renewal of a prescription. The application would also allow the physician to pull up patient scheduling and even see a photo of the patient to be reminded of who he or she is. The patient’s phone number, address, and e-mail address would be accessible as well.

Designed primarily to handle emergency situations, if an ophthalmologist was seeing a patient at a remote location and wanted to post a procedure code and diagnosis, that’s also possible (it requires the MacPractice HL7 Interface), Mr. Hollis said. If the eye surgeon was asked to see a patient at a nursing home, the surgeon could actually enter information about a new patient and it could be reviewed and posted in the office practice management software, he added. The ability to enter planned treatment will be added to version 2.1 of the application.

However, because of the relatively small form factor of the iPhone, patient charts are not accessible from the application. On the other hand, the larger form factor of the newly released iPad would be able to accommodate access to EMR information, Mr. Hollis said.

While client response to the MacPractice iPhone Interface 2.0 has exceeded the company’s expectations, with 25% of its clients having purchased this additional capability, Mr. Hollis said that interest from doctors in the iPad is off the charts.

“We announced that we would develop for the iPad just before MacWorld in February, and our booth was mobbed by attendees who wanted to learn more,” he said.

Vincent Vann, M.D., Edinburg, Texas, said that being able to access additional patient information from the iPad such as EMR will change the whole ballgame.

The iPhone Interface 2.0, which can also be used in Safari on any Mac or PC desktop, portable or tablet computer, requires the practice management software MacPractice MD, DC, DDS, or 20/20, version 3.6. MacPractice recommends that users set up a VPN for security, according to the company’s press release.

Editors’ note: Mr. Hollis is president of MacPractice Inc. (Lincoln, Neb.).

Contact information

Hollis: 212-683-2224, markhollis@macpractice.com

An app for ophthalmologists on-the-go An app for ophthalmologists on-the-go
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