Byline article by Jessica Oaks
When it comes to embracing new technological solutions, healthcare tends to lead the way. [counter point] New tools mean better diagnosis and better treatment, which ultimately leads to healthier patients. Of course, in an industry that is for-profit, the latest tools also provide hospitals with competitive advantages over rivals. However you choose to interpret the underlying motivations, there’s no denying that healthcare and technology go together.
One of the latest tools to be embraced by healthcare workers is the tablet. Portable, powerful, intuitive, and – when taken in the context of what medical technology typically costs – incredibly affordable, the tablet computer is influencing and molding the healthcare industry in many ways. Here are five of the top changes that tablets like the Apple iPad are helping make possible.
How Tablets are Influencing Healthcare
EDITOR: While I’ve posted many articles about the iPad for consumer use, but Jessica gives us insight into how tablets are used within the healthcare industry itself. By far the dominant tablet for medical use is the Apple iPad.
1. Digital Record-keeping
Of the many benefits that tablets give the healthcare industry, digital record-keeping may be the most widely embraced. By replacing the traditional clipboard, tablets enable more efficient and effective record-keeping. There is no longer the risk of handwriting being illegible, errors being made when transferring notes into formal records, losing records through human error, or other similar scenarios. Records can now be input directly into the tablet, double-checked for accuracy, and stored via the Cloud. It’s simple and effective.
2. Eliminates the Paper Trail
Just as tablets are replacing clipboards in the exam room, they’re also increasingly finding a spot at the reception desk. And why not use them in the office? Considering T-Mobile offers free data for tablet users, it’s more affordable than ever for practices to adopt their use. Now, patients can simply be handed a tablet when they arrive for their appointment, and not printed forms. This digital “onboarding” process eliminates a significant amount of paperwork, which in turn greatly improves the speed with which patients are seen – which is both good for the patient and for business.
3. Improved Communication
Tablets enable instant, face-to-face communication, around the world. Doctors can speak to patients, patients can speak to family members, or doctors can speak with other doctors. Beyond the remote communication that tablets help facilitate, they can also engage the patient while he or she is in the office. Whether used to help explain a procedure to the patient prior to surgery, or for feedback on the patient’s experience, tablets are tremendous communication tools. They help promote and encourage conversation and interaction, which can greatly aid doctors and nurses during the treatment process. [See Is FaceTime HIPAA Compliant?]
4. Improved Security
When it comes to securing patients’ medical records, you can’t be too cautious. With paper records, there exist multiple points where a patient’s private information could become compromised: when transferring hard copy information into a digital record; after the hard copy has been stowed away; or prior to the records being filed. With an iPad or tablet, it’s easy to secure your device so that the information stored within is hidden from prying eyes. Though no digital system is completely secure, with digital record-keeping, there are less potential “weak” points.
5. Empowers Healthcare Providers
Healthcare professionals will soon be as accustomed to seeing tablets in the OR as they are scalpels and forceps. This is because tablets are above all else tools – and thanks to their adaptability and usability, they offer a number of practical benefits in medical environments. From serving as comprehensive medical libraries and diagnostic tools to powerful language translators, tablets are incredibly capable devices that can transform the entire treatment experience. They are the Leatherman multi-tools and Swiss Army Knives of the operating room.
Mobile Devices are Here to Stay
And their reach is turing out to be far greater than anyone had imagined. Far from being simple entertainment devices or distractions, tablets and smartphones are proving to offer nearly unlimited practical benefits. This is no less true in the healthcare industry; even in this nascent stage, they are having a significant and lasting impact on both the way that hospitals work and patients are treated.