If you own or have used Apple’s sleek iPad, then you know how easy and appealing the tablet is. It’s relatively lightweight, it’s intuitive to use, it has a wonderful high-resolution screen and it’s small enough to easily throw into bag and go.
All of this is why the iPad is quickly becoming the most popular option for medical practices and hospitals to use in conjunction with their EHR implementation. The iPad seems to be the perfect mobile diagnostic tool for doctors to use both in the clinic, and at home.
Benefits of the iPad
There are several reasons why the iPad is so popular with doctors and hospital staff.
With the iPad, doctors can easily pull up a patient’s records at home to study or input information.
The iPad also functions as a great learning tool for patients. Many doctors are using the tablet to pull up high resolution pictures and diagrams. Seeing these images can help patients better understand complicated medical terms and diagnoses, especially when they’re shown on an iPad, which is comfortable and familiar to most patients.
The Food and Drug Administration also recently approved several apps for the iPad that will allow doctors to pull up X-rays and other patient images. This will further help speed up and improve patient care.
Although few if any doctors are using the iPad in this capacity, having an iPad in every waiting room would give patients a chance to learn about how to better their health while they’re waiting on the doctor. Few patients are inspired to pick up a book or magazine while they’re waiting. But if there was an iPad sitting on the exam table? You can bet most of them would pick it up. The iPad could easily be programed to go directly to files or sites to teach patients how to improve their overall health.
If you were worried about the iPad getting damaged, you could easily attach the tablet to the wall.
iPad Medical Apps
Many software companies are frantically developing new apps that will further help customize the iPad to clinics and hospitals. Currently there are over 300, and almost 100 of them are free for doctors and medical staff. So it’s easy to imagine how many there will be this time next year!
Of course, it’s the apps that will make or break the iPad’s ultimate success integrating with EHR. Apps need to be truly useful, and they need to work. So far, this is likely the biggest hurdle the iPad is facing. The technology is still new, which is why so many doctors are hanging back, waiting to see what EHR vendors will come up with for the tablet.
The good news is that there are several major hospitals that are already piloting the use of iPads for their doctors and nursing staff.
Cedars-Sinai is using the iPad for data entry during doctor rounds. Children’s Hospital in St. Louis are using the tablets for patient education, as well as a games and distraction for their young patients. Kaweah Delta are using iPads for patient monitoring, X-rays and EKG.
So, some hospitals and clinics are slowly jumping in and pioneering the path for the rest of us. Like most new technologies, progress will likely be slow at first and then snowball as bugs are worked out and efficiency increases.