Since the debut of the iPad in 2010, healthcare facilities have been finding new ways to leverage this technology to operate more efficiently and improve patient care. In fact, a recent study by Manhattan Research showed that 65% of the 1,819 physicians surveyed use the iPad specifically, a 30% increase from 2011 (Horowitz, 2012).
Initially patient data security worries and HIPAA regulations slowed the implementation of tablets in a healthcare setting; but developments in security and pressure from doctors supporting bring your own device (BYOD) initiatives has led to an increased presence of this technology in the healthcare industry.
The use of tablets in general has increased in a healthcare setting, but iPads have remained the top choice among healthcare professionals. This is primarily due to their size & weight, long battery life, and the large number of apps created specifically for iPad by major EHR players, Allscripts, Epic, and Cerner (Gruman, 2013).
The response to iPads in healthcare has thus far been positive due to the variety of ways that these devices have been used in a healthcare setting. Below we detail a few of the ways that the healthcare industry has been using iPads.
7 Ways iPads are Being Used in Healthcare
We’ve all been there – “Please complete this form and return it when you are done.” It’s a hassle for the patient, and it’s an even bigger hassle for the person who has to enter all of that data into a computer. The iPad lessens the time requirement on each end and allows for an easier way to update patient information.
2. Satisfaction Surveys
On the opposite end of the visit, iPads allow care facilities to quickly collect patient feedback to improve processes and overall guest satisfaction. The good news for hospitals is that using tablets for patient satisfaction surveys also qualifies for meaningful use funding.
3. Patient Records
Similar to the check-in process, the ability to store patient information digitally on a mobile device allows a doctor to be much more efficient. iPads allow for patient information to be easily accessed without the hassle of thumbing through papers and decoding handwriting. Critical patient information such as current medication lists become readily available, allowing for quicker decision making regarding treatment options.
4. Patient Education
Rather than relying solely on verbal instructions, the iPad allows physicians the opportunity to visually communicate valuable educational information to the patient, including the course of treatment and follow-up care. Out of hospitals around the country who have implemented iPads as a means of improving discharge communication, 63% saw an improvement in survey responses regarding patient satisfaction (Kang, 2013). The ability to improve patient education ultimately leads to lower readmission rates and a higher ROI for hospitals and other medical facilities. This could save hospitals millions of dollars per year on patient reimbursement fees and Medicare penalties.
5. Patient Entertainment
In extended stay situations such as hospitals, the ability to make patients feel comfortable is a key component of the treatment process. Games on the iPad, and applications such as Skype that allow patients to stay connected with friends and family help to provide a much needed distraction and produce an additional level of comfort.
The use of iPads allows physicians the ability to provide valuable medical information in a more light-hearted manner. For younger patients, the use of pictures on an iPad can help a child feel more comfortable, and will reduce many of the negative feelings (fear, pain, etc…) associated with treatment.
7. Prescription Management
The use of tablets for computerized physician order entry (CPOE) of prescription refills and Rx authorizations has helped to significantly improve turnaround times – some say up to 90% (Adil, 2012). In serious medical situations this turnaround time could mean the difference between life and death. The ability to send this information electronically also eliminates any errors in understanding handwriting – an issue that causes an estimated 7,000 deaths per year!
As the healthcare industry continues to find additional uses for iPads and other tablets, the use of these mobile devices will continue to increase. The benefits of these devices are unmistakable, but from an infection control standpoint these devices create a new roaming “high-touch” surface that can transfer dangerous pathogens between patients and physicians. As long as these mobile devices are properly disinfected on a regular basis, the iPad can continue to help increase the efficiency of the healthcare industry going forward.