The success of devices like the iPhone and iPad in healthcare has become so pronounced that the Department of Health And Human Services has begun to single-out the use mobile devices as part of the meaningful use requirements for electronic health records (EHR) systems. In addition to identifying mobile device use, the agency has also taken steps towards explicitly regulating mobile device security needs in the healthcare industry.
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The iPad has become a fixture in healthcare that simplifies the lives of doctors and nurses. It turns out that the iPad can improve the quality of care patients receive if it is used as a mechanism to record a patient’s medical history and/or as a way of monitoring that patient’s progress on follow-up visits.
Healthcare has been a natural fit for the iPad and, to a slightly smaller extent, the iPhone. iOS devices can provide interaction with electronic records and other patient information as well as offer access to reference guides, medical images like X-rays, and even remote diagnoses via FaceTime.
A new program being tested in California’s Marin County aims to bring some of those abilities to paramedics in the field. The program, which equips paramedic teams with iPhones via a specialized QR reader app, is a joint venture with Silicon Valley startup Lifesquare. Its aim is to allow paramedics instant access to patient information using QR codes stickers.
Since the day the original iPad was announced more than two years ago, there’s been a constant discussion about its use in healthcare. At face value, the iPad offers a lot of tools to doctors and other healthcare professionals like access to electronic medical records (EMRs), access to electronic prescribing systems, and access to a wealth of reference materials like medication guides. To some extent the same benefits are available from the iPhone and other smartphones.
Those seem like great additions to a doctor’s daily workflows – both in the office and while on rounds at hospitals. Those great healthcare features don’t live in a vacuum, however. They live on mobile devices that also allow their owners to check-in on social networks, send and receive texts and emails, play games, and do all manner of personal tasks. That has some doctors and hospitals concerned that iPad, iPhones, and other mobile devices could actually be putting patients in harm’s way.