When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad back in 2010, there was a healthy dose of skepticism that arose from both the public and technology journalists. Some of this was due to the extremely high expectations from the iPhone— a truly revolutionary and game-changing piece of equipment— having been announced just three years earlier.
As the years passed, Jobs’ original vision was vindicated as the iPad gained momentum and ultimately became an integral part of many people’s lives. This is especially true for doctors and medical practices, which have become huge benefactors of the type of tablet functionality and mobile healthcare (mHealth) that the iPad pioneered. To prove it, we’ve compiled some of the ways iPads and tablets can improve the lives of medical practitioners.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, it’s worth taking an overview of the simple benefits tablets offer medical practices. Firstly, tablets provide more convenience than a desktop computer and greater functionality than a smartphone. They also usually have better battery performance than smartphones, and can go all day without needing a charge. The iPad and its extensive Apple store, especially, will open your practice up to a wide variety of apps for mHealth, which help with everything from imaging to referencing, EMR to fitness. All this, and they’re very affordable too.
When you need a simple way to manage the logistics of your practice at a glance, tablets can help. Tasks that were traditionally handled with paper or on a computer, such as scheduling, accessing patient information, and billing, can now be done on-the-go with the combination of a tablet and medical management software. Communication can also be improved through email, instant messaging, and direct messaging of health records.
The migration to electronic health records (EHR) and electronic medical records (EMR) has been an adjustment for all medical practices. One of the biggest benefits, however, was lessening the reliance on paper. Instead of printing out pages and pages of patient records, doctors can access EHR and EMR immediately on a tablet wherever they are. That saves money, but tablets can also help reduce time. A study found that the use of tablets in conjunction with electronic medical records saved physicians over an hour each day. Plus, many physicians prefer viewing medical records on the larger screen size tablets versus smartphones.
Reduce Chart Time
Data entry is one of the biggest time-sucks for physicians. Traditionally, physicians have had to either wait until after the exam is over to begin charting medical records or try and multitask during the appointment, which often leads to many inaccuracies. A tablet with a solid speech-to-text dictation— such as the iPad, which boasts a 96% accuracy rate when used with MediTouch’s EHR solution— can solve many of these issues. When combined with finger input functionality and a traditional keyboard, the challenges of charting are dramatically reduced with an iPad for doctors.
The days when a physician used to scribble a prescription down on a note pad, tear out a sheet of paper, and hand it over to a patient are coming to an end. Today, e-prescribing and Computerized Drug Order Entry (CDUE) lets doctors punch in prescriptions from their mobile devices and have the order sent directly to the patient’s pharmacy of choice. Aside from the speed and convenience factor for both doctors and patients, CDUE and e-prescribing reduces the margin of error for handwriting while also automatically alerting the physician of any potential allergy problems or issues with current medication.
Following an x-ray, for instance, physicians have typically printed out the images to show patients. Tablets offer an alternative with mobile digital imaging, where physicians and patients can zoom in and out of troublesome areas together. Media that can also be displayed on tablets, such as informational “edutainment” videos and apps for mHealth, can help patients engage a little more in their diagnosis and treatment options.
Keeping Up on Medical Journals and Papers
One of the most overlooked benefits of tablets for physicians is how they improve reading experiences. Anyone who has spent too much time craning their neck and squinting their eyes to read for long periods of time on a smartphone will know how uncomfortable the experience can be. In a recent study, nearly 30% of doctors said they also use their tablets to stay updated on medical journals and papers.
When Jobs launched the iPad all those years ago, even he may have not fully understood how it would open up a new world of mobile healthcare. Today, if your practice hasn’t yet invested in a tablet-based solution, it’s time to get on board. Your staff and patients will thank you.