News Feature | May 15, 2013

iPad Drives Patient Engagement

Source: Health IT Outcomes
John Oncea

By John Oncea, Digital Editorial Director

Mobile Doctor

Follow John on Twitter: @buck25

Doctors have embraced mobile technology – one survey found 72% of healthcare professionals use a mobile device – and Apple’s iPhone and iPad appear to be the platform of choice. Why?

Manhattan Research reported last year that physician adoption of tablets for professional purposes almost doubled compared to 2011, reaching 62% in 2012's survey. The survey of 3,015 practicing physicians across 25 specialties was reported on by Anthony Vecchione for InformationWeek Healthcare who noted, “Apple's iPad emerged as the dominant tablet platform.” Vecchione points out that the iPad’s dominance is “an extension of the general market where the iPad is a dominant player” and quotes Monique Levy, VP of research at Manhattan Research as saying “it is really suited for doctors in terms of graphics.”

Vecchione also notes Levy’s explanation that a growing acceptance of technology by doctors over the past few years as another reason for the growth of mobile devise usage. “It used to be that you had to solve the problems of security access, validation, and data security first and then adopt,” Levy said. “So what's happened is that the system has turned upside down, we're now at adoption first and solve the problem later.”

According to Nathanael Arnold of Wall St. Cheat Sheet, “Perhaps not even the visionary Steve Jobs could have foreseen that Apple’s mobile devices would become such an integral part of doctors’ daily routines.”  Arnold, citing a Vitera Healthcare study, writes, “Sixty percent of mobile device users use the iPhone, while 45% use an iPad. Only 38% of respondents reported using a mobile device with Google’s Android operating system.”

Marcia Heroux Pounds, writing for the Ft. Lauderdale, FL-based SunSentinel, quotes Ahmed Datoo, vice president of marketing for Citrix's mobile products, as saying doctors are demanding to use their personal devices on the job. “Doctors are disproportionately going out and buying iPads and iPhones and Android devices, and they're bringing them to work,” Datoo said.

Pounds also spoke with Ronaldo Montmann, director of technical services for Broward Health, who said doctors are already "highly mobile" in the hospital and the use of mobile devices “will make their lives easier" by enabling “physicians to spend more time with patients and less time with the so-called paperwork in the virtual environment.”

Ashley Wainwright dug deeper into why doctors prefer Apple products and, writing for SecurEdgeNet, cited the following five reasons as “some of the top ways doctors are using iPads in hospitals that make them adore these devices.”

  • Medical Updates and Education
  • Communication Enhancement
  • Quick EMR Access
  • Diagnostic Tool
  • Performing Hospital Rounds

Wainwright concludes by writing, “iPads are incredible mobile devices that have the ability to make a huge impact in healthcare. They are changing the way medical professionals perform and improving overall workflow and ultimately the quality of patient care.”

Ryan Faas suggests, “The iPad’s design offers a lot of promise and problem solving in point of care use,” as another reason for its favored status among doctors in his story for Cult of Mac. “It offers the benefits of electronic medical records in a form that’s similar to a paper chart and doesn’t create a barrier between doctor and patient – a common complaint about laptops used for similar purposes,” Faas writes.

Garry Barker of The Sydney Morning Herald spoke with Dr. Henry Feldman, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and wrote “The devices are being clad in sterile, waterproof cases and taken into operating rooms to help surgeons in complex operations, and they're improving communication with patients about their ailments and treatments.” Barker quotes Feldman as saying a “benefit (of using an iPad) is that instead of having to look up to a video screen to see medical images, the surgeon can have them right beside the operating area – even take measurements on the screen with a swipe of his fingers.”

Feldman – who spoke with Barker while he was in Australia demonstrating iPad systems for physicians, surgeons, and hospitals – made sure to also point that it was safe to use an iPad in an operating room as well by “dunking his iPad, clad in a clear plastic case called Frog Skin, into a bucket of water, showing it could be washed and sterilized as thoroughly as an endoscope for use in an operating theatre.”

Barker concludes by quoting Feldman as saying, ''Patient care is more efficient and communication with patients better (using an iPad). I can bring up images (MRI, X-ray and CT scans, and anatomical diagrams) at a patient's bedside, or when I talk with a surgeon I might meet in a hallway. I use my iPad 10 times more often than I use my stethoscope.''