Good iPad EMR apps still six months out

By Chris Gullo
06:40 am

Cerner's Physician Express for iPad

Over the past few years, more and more hospitals have upgraded their wireless networks to support the increasing number of connected medical devices and droves of smartphone and tablet-equipped providers, patients, and visitors. Michael Catrini, Director of Information Systems and Infrastructure at Rutland Medical, a 188-bed hospital located in Vermont, recently spoke with MobiHealthNews to discuss his facility's recent wireless network overhaul, which Aruba Networks helmed.

Prior to the Aruba installation, the hospital used Cisco networks. "Cisco handles the quality service from a 'data is data', 'voice is voice' [perspective]," Catrini told MobiHealthNews, and that distinction became a potential issue. As an example, he presented a typical scenario: A wireless monitor is tracking a patient on a ventilator in transit from their room to an x-ray machine. According to Catrini, Cisco's installation wouldn't prioritize the data being sent from their monitor -- it would have the same importance on the network as "an Excel spreadsheet being emailed on a computer."

In contrast, "One of the key drivers for us was Aruba's ability to profile the application traffic and apply quality of service at a particular application, rather than just blindly saying that... voice always gets the highest priority."

Rutland also uses its wireless network to support handheld Dolphin barcode scanners for medication administration: Barcodes are scanned on patients' bracelets as well as the medication container.

Catrini said his facility equips its providers with smartphones but Rutland is device agnostic.  iPhone and Android smartphones: "The industry changes so rapidly, we've gotten away from trying to standardize any particular phone," Catrini said. He's also already seen the impact Android has made: "Android really blew up the market," he said.

When asked about tablet adoption, Catrini said that the "topic is a hot [one]. Physicians are coming in and saying, 'We want iPads!' The real challenge with an iPad isn't a physical challenge; it's the applications," he said. "If an application isn't designed to interact with that screen size or [multitouch] technology, then it raises all kinds of issues."

In March, the hospital started using Cerner's EMR. Although Cerner does have one native application already available for both iPhone and iPad users, called Physician Express, Catrini believes that mobile EMR apps still have a ways to go: "I think we're six months or a year from a really good native [iPad EMR app]."

While other CIO types have also predicted better native EMR apps are in the works at the big name EMR vendors like Cerner and Epic, smaller design-focused shops that have concentrated on the tablet form factor, including DrChrono and Clear Practice's Nimble, have received a number of lauds over the past year.

Read the press release about Rutland's Aruba overhaul below.

PRESS RELEASE -- SUNNYVALE, Calif., Sep 12, 2011 -- Rutland Regional Medical Center, a leading healthcare provider that serves as the go-to treatment center for Vermont's best ski areas, is driving innovation in biomedicine and provider integration with the Aruba Networks ARUN +0.36% Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture.

The 188-bed hospital is in the process of deploying a Cerner Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, converting diagnostic imaging (DI) rooms to digital, implementing a nurse call system and tracking patient health with a variety of biomedical devices -- all over an Aruba wireless network. The center is also in the process of onboarding many provider practices into its own system -- and is seeing costs lowered and lead times shortened significantly with Aruba Virtual Branch Networking (VBN).

"Hospitals today must be aggressive in assessing and adopting technology in order to ensure a consistently high level of patient care," said Michael Catrini, director of information systems, infrastructure for the regional health leader. "The very nature of healthcare delivery has changed with the rapidly expanding pool of Wi-Fi-enabled devices such as smartphones and tablets. Wi-Fi becoming the default access network required a shift from the traditional port-centric approach to mobility-centric approach. We need to be able to see and control the user, device and application to help ensure security and application quality of service. Providers like Rutland can either drive it or be driven by it. We choose to drive."

The hospital initially deployed wireless as most organizations do, as an overlay network in public areas such as waiting rooms and cafeterias. Over time, the use and deployment of that Cisco 802.11a/b/g network expanded to accommodate more patients, guests and their rapidly increasing numbers of mobile devices. It worked fine, for a while, but lack of visibility into traffic on the network and frequent radio interference caused issues. This, combined with lack of integrated network management capabilities and a growing pool of patient-care-focused mobile devices, necessitated a change.

The Aruba MOVE architecture is context-aware, taking each user's device, location and application into account when applying security and management policies over the network. This helps organizations ensure secure connectivity for tablets and smartphones, as well as application performance and network reliability. MOVE further enables network rightsizing for mobility, allowing access networks to be built at a fraction of the cost of traditionally overprovisioned and undersubscribed Ethernet-switch based access networks.

Placing the highest priority on patient care, Catrini and his team sought a mobile network solution that would give them both visibility into and control over all of the traffic on the network, enabling them to minimize interference from the growing wave of non-critical devices and optimize performance of their own equipment securely and reliably. They needed a solution that would allow them to host and manage high densities of mobile clients, including everything from smartphones and tablets to Ascom and Honeywell communications and location tracking devices. They also needed to make sure the most critical applications were able to take priority over other applications.

Seeing a trend toward independently practicing providers joining larger groups owned and operated by the center, it also needed a solution that would enable remote access with complete transparency -- as if the doctors' offices were in the hospital itself. The Aruba Virtual Branch Networking (VBN) portfolio filled the bill.

"Aruba VBN Remote Access Points (RAPs) were a really key piece in influencing our decision-making," said Catrini. "For the first time, we were able to bring on a one- or two-provider office with a few office staff without having to establish an expensive dedicated leased connection between the two and spend thousands of dollars at either end of that connection. By putting the Aruba RAP 5 in place, we can spend just a few hundred dollars for a business-class connection from one of the local ISPs and we can bring that office up in a matter of hours. When the whole thing is said and done, we have a few hundred dollars invested to have them extended to our network as if they were sitting right in our building."

"Rutland is among the many innovative healthcare organizations that have realized a need to shift away from a port-centric model for mobility to achieve their application performance requirements in an often challenging care setting," said Manish Rai, head of industry solutions marketing for Aruba. "Aruba's Virtual Branch Networking solutions can extend the hospital network to remove sites at a fraction of the cost and complexity when compared to traditional branch office solutions."

About Aruba Networks, Inc.

Aruba Networks is a leading provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise. The company's Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture unifies wired and wireless network infrastructures into one seamless access solution for corporate headquarters, mobile business professionals, remote workers and guests. This unified approach to access networks dramatically improves productivity and lowers capital and operational costs.

Listed on the NASDAQ and Russell 2000(R) Index, Aruba is based in Sunnyvale, California, and has operations throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific regions. To learn more, visit Aruba at . For real-time news updates follow Aruba on Twitter and Facebook.

(C) 2011 Aruba Networks, Inc. Aruba Networks' trademarks include the design mark for AirWave, Aruba Networks(R), Aruba Wireless Networks(R), the registered Aruba the Mobile Edge Company logo, the registered AirWave logo, Aruba Mobility Management System(R), Mobile Edge Architecture(R), People Move. Networks Must Follow(R), RFProtect(R), Green Island(R). All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

SOURCE: Aruba Networks, Inc.

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