"Because their exposure to work is being limited in terms of their hours, we have to come up with novel ways of imparting education," says Patel, who helped conduct astudy that looked at the benefits of the devices to residents. She is the study's first author.
The study examined whether the ordering patterns of residents changed after the implementation of mobile computing.
To do this, it compared a three-month time period when residents did not have iPad access to a three month time period when they did.
The study found that, armed with the devices, residents placed more orders and did so earlier in the admission process, thus reducing delays in patient care. "It signaled that patient care was becoming more real-time as opposed to fragmented by the availability of computers or the availability of the data needed to make decisions," says Patel. On average, residents were saving about an hour per day using the devices.
Each iPad is loaded with a number of useful tools, including a remote desktop application called Citrix®, links to the hospital paging directory, PubMed®, and medical calculators. Residents also use their devices during twice-daily conference sessions to review internal medicine board questions. Instead of one person raising his or her hand to answer a question, the question is posed on the iPad and everyone can respond using an audience response app. "It was a way for us to make our conferences a lot more interactive," says Patel.
The hospital invests about $650 for each iPad, which includes insurance, a protective cover, straps, and software. Funding for the study and the devices came from the university's Department of Medicine. The results of the study can be found in a research letter published in the March 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
This article appears in the May 2012 issue of Medicine on the 'Net