Medical Records at the Tap of a Finger: Mobile is Transforming Patient Care

Aug 24, 2012

By Vanessa Horwell, Chief Visibility Officer

I recently went for an annual (medical) check-up and walked into the doctor’s office expecting a receptionist to hand me a form to complete. Instead, she handed me an iPad.

As I looked around the busy waiting room, I noticed other patients also clutching iPads. While the lengthy process of writing out one’s medical history is an exercise in tedium no matter what, that day, it was quite novel. Well, almost.

But this medical practice didn’t stop with its tech-savviness in the waiting room. The doctors also carried iPads to use during patient consultations. And in each consultation room, a large flat screen monitor hung on the wall displaying patient records, X-rays, MRI results and important medical data all beamed from the tablet to the screen via Bluetooth™.

It was certainly the most high-tech doctor’s office I’ve been in, a snapshot of what many medical practices will look like in the future and the first thing that came to mind when reading an article in TIME Magazine, Better Care Delivered by iPad, M.D. Part of TIME’s wireless issue, the story focused on the growing influence of mobile technology in the medical field and virtually every aspect of our lives. It’s not just doctors’ offices that are going mobile: hospital-based doctors are rapidly adopting iPads as a way to carry patient records with them and get back the bedside face time lost while looking up electronic records at desktop or remote stations.

So that’s the reason you get about 241,000 hits if you Google the words iPad Lab Coat. That’s right, medical clothing companies are now producing white lab coats with pockets big enough for tablets.

According to the article, every internal-medicine resident at the University of Chicago hospital and at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore is issued an iPad. At the former, patients of iPad doctors get tests and treatments faster and get a better understanding of their conditions.

Even more impressively, the medical schools at Yale and Stanford have adopted fully paperless, iPad-based curriculums. Of course, these institutions are among the most prestigious hospitals and medical schools in the country, so it stands to reason they would be leading the way.

The influence of mobile on the medical profession is only going to grow: already 62% of physicians who own tablets and 85% of those who own smartphones use them for professional purposes, even if not linked to an electronic-records network.

Our overburdened and dysfunctional healthcare system desperately needs the streamlining mobile can give it. Let’s hope a leap into the future takes us back to a past where patients and doctors had the time to forge real relationships leading to better health outcomes.


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