We've mentioned MacPractice a couple of times before -- professional software for the Mac designed to be used by doctors and dentists to do things like track patients' appointments, keep and share health information, and do all the things a small-to-mid-sized health clinic needs to do. We were able to meet up with MacPractice's CEO Mark Hollis this week at Macworld | iWorld 2012 here in San Francisco, and he chatted with us about the company's latest venture: A new iPad app called Clipboard that's designed to work directly with the MacPractice software to help doctors get and log their information remotely.
Hollis says developing for the iPad has been an interesting task for his company. Traditionally, he says, most doctors want bigger screens on their desktop computers. The MacPractice software is full of information (about scheduling, patients, charts, and so on), and so the desktop software has been designed to show as much of that information as possible. Most desktops it's used on also have bigger screens, which means anyone using the software can easily view or find whatever they need, clearly and quickly.
The iPad, however, while more portable, is a relatively small screen. So while many, many doctors, says Hollis, have asked for access to MacPractice through the iPad, the company has has to think carefully about how to provide the best experience. There is already an interface app that allows doctors to access information, and there are a few other apps for various purposes and specialties. But the Clipboard app is designed to take on the much-requested feature of allowing patients to enter and approve their information, so it was a tough one for Hollis and his company to get right.
Another obstacle to implementing iPad apps as quickly as doctors can use them is simply all of the various security and privacy protocols that MacPractice needs to follow. Patient and medical information is obviously very sensitive, and there are a whole host of guidelines and standards, required by law in many cases, that MacPractice needs to follow to make sure its apps are certified and can be used by medical professionals. Hollis says that most of the issue there is that MacPractice has to build in those standards by itself -- Apple doesn't have an official part of the iOS API, for example, designed to deal with medical certification. "It would be helpful," says Hollis, if Apple did provide some official code to help deal with those issues. But for now, MacPractice has to make sure its own apps are valid, and that takes time and effort, obviously.
Finally, Hollis mentioned Parallels Mobile as another option. Parallels is a completely separate virtualization app from a completely separate company, but the iPad version of the software, which lets you control and interact with apps remotely running on a separate desktop computer, allows doctors to really get into everything MacPractice can do for them, even when they're not at the desk.
If you do want to run the app locally on your iPad, however, the Clipboard app will be available for $9.99. It's currently in beta, and will be available for MacPractice users soon. Obviously, if you download the app itself, it won't do much without the MacPractice system set up around it, but Hollis does say that it will at least have some sample data included, so anyone who downloads the app can at least see what the functionality is like. MacPractice has been an excellent tool for doctors and physicians for a long time, and the company is making a big drive to make sure that tool is available on iOS as well.