“Welcome to the ultimate virtual cadaver dissection experience!” So begins the pitch on McGraw-Hill’s Anatomy & Physiology REVEALED app for the iPad, a teaching app which overlays photos of real dead people onto rendered models of the underlying gristle.
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When it comes to talking about iOS devices in healthcare, most of think of doctors carrying iPads the way that they used to carry lengthy paper charts or clipboards. We think about doctors looking at X-rays and other diagnostic tests on an iPad, perhaps even using the iPad to illustrate a broken bone, illness, or surgical procedure.
Doctors, however, aren’t the only healthcare professionals to be embracing mobile technology. A new study shows that the vast majority of nurses have also embraced mobile devices, particularly the iPhone and other smartphones. It also highlights that differing needs of healthcare professionals when it comes to mobile technology.
Doctors may be fans of the iPad as a clinical tool, but they’re not certain that Apple’s iPad, the 5000+ health and medical apps in the App Store, or other mobile technologies are safe and effective health tools for patients. That’s the gist of a report by PwC Global Healthcare. The report was based on surveys of physicians, healthcare management professionals and payers, and mobile technology users in ten countries around the world.
According to the report, just under two-thirds (64%) of healthcare providers acknowledged that mobile technologies offer potential benefits for patients, but feel that mobile health (also known as mhealth) is virgin and untested territory. As a result, the majority of doctors (73%) don’t suggest iOS or mobile health apps to their patients and some (13%) even discourage patients from using them.
The iPad has been popular with doctors and healthcare providers since it debuted two years ago. In fact, the iPad’s form factor and capabilities are almost tailor-made for many common and emerging uses in medicine like electronic health records, medical and drug reference guides, and even remote diagnosis using FaceTime.
With hospitals rolling out iPad deployments and many physicians in private practice buying them, it was only a matter of time before healthcare-specific iPad accessories hit the market. Griffin Technologies is one of the first companies to focus on making the iPad an even better fit for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals with a new case that’s designed specifically for medical environments.
A team of researchers have discovered that the software used to analyze images of the brain gives significantly different results depending on whether it’s used on a Mac or PC. It means the measurements gathered on one machine can be up to 15% different than those gathered on another — using exactly the same images — which is a serious issue that medical professionals and developers need to fix… fast.
The iPad might seem to be the ideal tool for medical professionals — lightweight, always connected, reliable and with an all-day battery. But none of that will help you if you slip with a scalpel and suddenly have a gusher on your hands, or someone evacuates the contents of their ungrateful stomach all over your tablet.
What you need, doctor, is Griffin’s new AirStrap Mad.
Imagine that you could just point your iPhone’s camera at your baby and it would immediately tell you his vital signs: heartbeat and so on. Or that you could fire up an app and it could pick out tiny, invisible movements from what looks like a still video. Using a process called Eulerian Video Magnification, boffins at MIT are doing this already.
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.
The costs of not complying with HIPAA (the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which includes self-reporting of data breaches, can be steep. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee recently finalized a settlement with the Department of Health and Human Services for $1.5 million for a recent breach (on top of a $17 million price tag for the investigation and remediation actions). HHS seems to be making a a show of high profile enforcement as a way to encourage better compliance among smaller organizations, including hospitals and individual medical practices.
This raises the question of whether or not using the iPad in healthcare increases the risk of privacy violations. If so, will a show of force on the part of HHS dampen the enthusiasm for the iPad in healthcare?
Apple CEO Tim Cook has been invited to participate in a roundtable discussion at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s (NCCN) annual conference on clinical practice guidelines and quality cancer care. The topic of the discussion is Cancer and Corporate America: Business As Usual. At the moment it isn’t clear if Cook will attend (NCCN lists both speakers that have confirmed their attendance as well as those that have not).
The invitation raises some questions about why the organization chose to invite Cook. One obvious answer centers around the role that Cook played in managing Apple while Steve Jobs was fighting the pancreatic cancer that eventually led to his death last year. While that is certainly plausible, there could be other reasons behind NCCN’s invitation.