The scenario sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie — the doctor pulls out her touch-screen tablet computer from the drawer of instruments. She calls up the patient’s chart with a few taps and proceeds to add a note to the page with her latest diagnosis. A visualization pops up, and she flips the screen over to give the patient an idea of what ails him.
While there are many obvious potential benefits significant uses and advantages the iPad offers… there are many drawbacks as well.
Imagine if you could walk into your physicians office, pick up an iPad, check in, pay your co-pay and take the iPad to your seat and view a video or podcast about your condition? Perhaps there would be an app on the iPad which shows how far behind your physician is so you can determine if you have time for a snack or a badly needed bathroom break.
Imagine that you can log in to your portal, review the information from your last visit… suggest edits or corrections for your physician to review later and post a question or two that you can review with your physician during your visit. Most patients will forget their questions once they get in the room with us… so this could be a very simple useful application.
I believe that MedFusion has an enormous opportunity here to own the front end of physicians office as an iPad solution. Perhaps even the likes of Athena could play in this space. Either way, the iPad could revolutionize the front end interactions between a patient and their provider. What needs to happen to realize this? Apple needs to drop the price of the iPad to make it reasonable for a physicians office to offer 10-15 patients a device. There needs to be some sort of security tether so we know if one *walks*… and either Apple needs to enable Flash on their devices or video content producers need to change the format of their videos so they can be watched on an iPad.
While in the physician office, you can both use the iPad to take notes to add to your portal, email to yourself or print out to take home with you. You could browse a video about a procedure your considering. If medications are prescribed your physician could fire up Epocrates and you can review the interactions with your current medications and the potential side effects of the new medication.
Unfortunately the current configuration is not yet robust enough to allow for a full blown EMR platform deployment and typing on the iPad may or may not be too annoying (I haven’t tried it yet)… but when the next version include a more robust hardware configuration, a camera and perhaps a screen we can write directly on, then utilizing the iPad as an EMR/EHR solution could happen.
In the hospital, the iPad could be utilized for similar front end interactions. Beyond that, until you can sterlize the iPad, or until the screen has a silver impregnated cover (for bacterial resistance) I do not see it as a useful tool to be carried on the floors for routine charting tasks. As part of a complete communications platform for nursing and physicians, the iPad should probably have a camera (the nurse could beam the video of a patients wound or EKG tracing to the docs iPhone or iPad). Enhancing communication and enabling nurses to be able to communicate immediately and effectively with the physician staff, pharmacy staff, IT staff or an administrator would go a long way to streamline the workflows that bog down the delivery of timely, efficient care on a hospital ward.
I was not one of the initial 200,000 + people who pre-ordered or bought an iPad last week… but I anxiously await the 2.0 version.
Hopefully Apple, MedFusion, Athena and others are listening. The health care space is in dire need of inexpensive, easily deployed, innovative solutions to improve the interaction of a patient within the healthcare space and to improve the communication between the players in the healthcare space. The iPad could accomplish this… stay tuned.
Addendum: an interestring string of twitter comments from Jeff Jarvis about his first day with his new iPad… “The iPad Backlash Begins: “After having slept with her, I am having morning-after regrets.”
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