Mobile Technology Enables Doctors to be More Efficient

The Ottawa Hospital’s pioneering decision to furnish their doctors with iPads is already improving patient care, the hospital says.

The iPad experiment started in 2010, and since then the hospital has deployed about 1,900 iPads to doctors. “The demand for these devices was insatiable. It’s probably going to top out at about 3,000,” says Dr. Glen Geiger, chief medical information officer at Ottawa Hospital. He goes on to add, “As far as we know, this is the largest installation on the continent.”

The iPad experiment has been so successful, that the Ottawa Hospital plans to equip thousands of iPhones and iPod Touches to its nurses, therapists and other staff.

The iPads allow doctors to access the latest patient records and test results while doing their rounds in hospital. Because of this, it eliminates paper charts and the need to visit the nursing stations so often.

Initially, the iPads were mainly used to access test results. But since March, some doctors have been able to use them to order X-rays without having to leave the patient’s room. The Ottawa Hospital is the first in the world to do that, says Geiger. This has resulted in process efficiency; in addition, the patient confidence in the level of care has improved.

Not only can these mobile devices obtain test results and order X-rays, they will soon allow Doctors to order lab tests. And hopefully, next year the hospital plans to implement the process of ordering medication on the iPads and iPhones.

However, this implementation has had its challenges. It is stated that the hospital had no experience with the Apple operating system, as such they had to train the technology to the support team. Privacy was also an issue and made sure that the iPads were secure. In addition, the concern of germs being on the iPads which might affect the patients were taking into consideration and the hospital had to install special technology to keep track of the devices to prevent such occurrences.

This is a lot of money for going mobile. However, the introduction of iPads and other Apple mobile devices are part of a larger strategy the hospital calls “back to the bedside,” Geiger says.

“Over the past 10 years or more, many of our clinical teams have become computer-centric as opposed to being patient-centric. People are always gravitating back to our nursing stations where the computers are to get information.” By introducing iPads and other mobile devices, he says, “we’re trying to free up our clinicians’ time so they spend more time with the patient.”

It is pretty impressive how far mobile technology has come, from its beginning with cellular phones to now having mobile devices that can allow you to do just about anything with a touch of your finger.

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