By Curtis Woods, COO of Integrated Solutions, a division of IT4thePlanet
While many of us are "wowed" by the cool factor and ease of use of Apple Products (the iPad, iPhone and MacBook's just to name a few), if you are in a clinical environment utilizing electronic Practice Management and/or Electronic Health Records applications - beware. Unless your EHR application has documented, built-in support for Mac products you may be disappointed with the cost of implementing these devices within the clinic.
Even if your EHR vendor fully supports Apple products, the clinic must have wireless technology in place to connect to the EHR application, whether it is located within your clinic or in the cloud. The wireless devices must be robust, deliver a strong signal to the device and ensure that the signal remains stable at all times. If any of these criteria are not in place, the user will experience dropped connections to the application, slow access to the application or both. It can get very frustrating quickly. The cost of the higher end wireless devices (named access points) that meet this criteria can be upwards of $900 each and in many instances more than one device will be required.
The cost of remote access applications also has to be considered. If your EHR provider does not inherently support an iPad or MacBook, remote access must be in place so that the device can connect to a system that is supported. The most widely used are Microsoft remote desktop services and Citrix. These applications provide a "virtual" desktop from the Apple device to a system where the EHR application is installed. The user connects to it from their device and then accesses the EHR application. The cost and impact of remote access within a clinic can be enormous and the requirements must be carefully researched in order to determine the complexity needed.