In an end-of-the-year article discussing IT trends, the WSJ tucked-in what I consider a highly significant and insightful prediction under the "apps" category (see: The Rise of Apps, iPad and Android; subscription required). I copy it below:
Coming next: Apps go corporate. AT&T, business-software developer SAP AG and other companies are working on apps that can help their employees track sales, monitor systems or check-out customers without being tied to their stations. The quick adoption of tablets by business users is helping fuel the trend.
I have posted a number of notes about the usefulness of smartphones in healthcare delivery and health education. I have also discussed previously the type of programs that run on smartphones -- generally referred to as apps (see: New Definition for "Apps": The Smartphone Market for Medical Software). The distinction between "applications" than run on PCs/Macs and "apps" that run on smartphones and iPads is non-trivial. These latter small computer programs can be automatically downloaded from an on-line app stores, are relatively inexpensive, and also tend to have a more specific functionality than their PC-based counterparts.
It's no surprise that various companies are developing apps that can assist their sales force and other employees perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Such a goal would be irresistible to nearly all employers. The exception, or course, will be hospitals. One would think that hospital executives would jump at the opportunity to equip house officers, hospitalists, and nurses with iPads with the ability to access complete patient records. However, this solution is going to take many years to deploy. One of the major barriers will nominally be the possibility of HIPAA breaches with these devices (see: Major HIPAA Breach in Las Vegas Hospital Investigated by FBI). The real and most significant reason, I think, relates to the fact that most hospital EMRs are based on outdated technology. Retrofitting the electronic hospital records to be accessed and viewed via a web browser will be a major, and expensive, undertaking. Meanwhile, many hospital physicians are already surreptitiously copying patient records to the "cloud" for ease of use. I will be blogging on this topic later.