How Tablets are Influencing Healthcare

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , March 6, 2013

Clinical and business opportunities
As healthcare organizations strive to innovate their way into new business and clinical opportunities, the tablet platform is rolling out the steadiest supply of innovative applications in computing today. In Perlin's day-in-the-life scenario of an HCA clinician, he describes several applications for the iPad in widespread use at HCA:

  • Before heading to the office, the clinician can log in to eClinicalWorks to check her outpatient schedule for the day.
  • To find out the latest information about her patients' status, the PatientKeeper application allows her to plan her rounds most effectively and alerts her if a fellow physician is on vacation, which adds to the list of patients who she must see on her rounds.
  • Fujifilm Synapse Mobility allows the clinician to review x-rays and echocardiograms of patients on the tablet.
  • While counseling a family member of a cardiac patient, the physician demonstrates an animation of a beating heart suffering from blockage in the left anterior descending coronary artery, using a tablet application called HeartPro.
  • A tablet application provides the Chads2 stroke risk calculator to let the physician calculate stroke risk for atrial fibrillation while the patient and caregivers look on.
  • To calculate the safety of anticoagulant medications, the physician turns to the UpToDate mobile app, which includes a reference library.
  • Mobile apps from Lexi-Comp, Epocrates, and others permit the physician to consider dosing and side effect questions about different medications.

Perlin notes that HCA also developed an in-house tablet app that gathers the work of hospitalists and makes the necessary referral to a specialist such as a cardiologist.

Because of new technology that connects monitoring devices to the EHR, caregivers can follow patients' vital signs on their mobile devices in real time rather than relying on data entered by hand at the end of shifts. The program, HCA Vitals Now, reduced the average time it took for vital signs to enter the patient's EHR from up to 41 minutes using pen and paper to 23 seconds per patient. The vendor partner is now making the app available to non-HCA providers.

Mobile devices also follow caregivers where computers haven't traditionally been. Intermountain developed an application for emergency responders, the first version of which is being tested by the Life Flight Network of Aurora, Ore.

Responders of Life Flight Network, which operates EMS helicopters in Intermountain's mountainous service area, typically had to document patient information once the helicopters touched down at hospitals. Using the Life Flight app, they can now document while en route to the facility, Holston says.

As a result, patients begin receiving treatment faster, responders write down information while it's still fresh in their heads, and legibility isn't an issue, Holston says. It also speeds Intermountain's billing process, he adds.

In the future, Intermountain could make its app available for sale for other healthcare providers, since it could apply equally effectively to any emergency responder, Holston says. For now, pilot testing continues as Intermountain fine-tunes the application's user interface. Clearly, it is a strategic initiative for Intermountain, but Holston declined to say how much money the organization has invested in its development.

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1 comments on "How Tablets are Influencing Healthcare"

Sarah (3/9/2013 at 5:00 PM)
This is an excellent review of the pros and cons of usage of a tablet. As the medical industry continues to try and cut costs, tablets are a nice part of that solution, as they are fairly inexpensive. A doctor myself, I like to take notes as the patient is talking, and a tablet eliminates one step in transcription of the medical notes. Thank you for this article...




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