PatientKeeper: Android as primordial soup

By Brian Dolan
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PatientKeeper CEO Paul BrientFrom a functionality standpoint, PatientKeeper's application is essentially the same regardless of which platform a user is on: BlackBerry, iPhone, PC, or even the newest platform for PK, Apple's iPad. For the past ten years, PatientKeeper has focused on making it easier for physicians to access and work with patient information from whatever device is move convenient and efficient for them.

PatientKeeper CEO and president Paul Brient discussed the recent iPad launch, legacy mobile platforms and his hopes for the Android platform during a recent interview with MobiHealthNews.

"What iPad brings is more real estate," Brient told MobiHealthNews. "The iPad is larger than the iPhone but still smaller than [legacy] tablets. The user interface for the iPad then becomes a hybrid experience between PatientKeeper's online portal application for fully-functioning PCs and an iPhone app designed for the smartphone platform. The iPad is such an intriguing platform because it's really the best of both world -- we can take advantage of this 'tweener' effect, if you will."

Brient said that there is "tremendous" excitement for the iPad within PatientKeeper's customer base.

"Tablets have been for some 15 years the 'Holy Grail' of healthcare computing, but for all sorts of different reasons they have yet to make an impact. The iPad is certainly a quantum leap for this industry, which has wanted this form factor for a long time. It's certainly a fresh approach, but does it mean the iPad will be the 'Holy Grail' for healthcare? It's still too early to tell."

Brient is quick to point out that PatientKeeper is committed to give physicians access to the information they need on any device they want. Brient said that PK is committed "in the abstract" to supporting all available devices, but there are caveats.

"Palm Pre is the perfect case study for this -- there is currently not a lot of demand for it," Brient said. "Should there be demand for the Palm Pre then absolutely we will go to that platform. With the acquisition of Palm by Hewlett-Packard though, there may be other approaches for" bringing Palm's WebOS to market.

Brient and his team at PatientKeeper have been around long enough that they can almost chart their user base's mobile predilections. First, there was a wave of enthusiasm and adoption for Palm Professional PDAs, then some excitement for Treo devices. Treo devices drove adoption and excitement but quickly plateau'd, Brient said. (The Treo was not the best phone," Brient noted.) BlackBerry-maker RIM then drove interest and adoption for smartphones and shortly after the Apple iPhone hit the market, smartphone peneration really "took off," Brient said.

"The [Google] Android operating system is going to be the next big leap," Brient said. "Android devices will take new approaches that target and recruit a new segment of physicians that were preioulsy unserved. It's a little bit hard to tell exactly what will come of it, but in my view, the Android space is where a lot of the innovation will come from in the future. Android seems to contain the right mix of primordial soup for the next big innovation."

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