Next time you go to the hospital, your doctor might whip out an iPad to show you X-rays, check drug interactions or review your medical history.
These are just some of the uses doctors are finding for Apple’s handy tablet computer in the Chicago area where three local hospitals are iPad early adopters.
At MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island, the device “went through here like wildfire,” once doctors realized they could use the device to quickly access hospital records said Dr. Richard Watson, who works in the ER room. “At least half of our staff here in the emergency room has their own iPad and carries it and uses it.”
Docs use the iPad to access the hospitals’ e-records, but sensitive personal info isn’t stored on the hand-held computer. To lower the likelihood that patient records can be stolen or read by non-staffers, both the iPad and hospital servers are password protected.
Some doctors even find the iPad useful enough buy their own to use on the job. Plastic surgeon Dr. Julie Parker, for example, uses her own personal iPad to help breast-cancer patients preview the effects of reconstructive surgery.
“The touch screen is intuitive and gives a hands-on experience for patients as they navigate through the pictures,” Parker said.
Shortly after it launched in April 2010, hospitals across the US started launching iPad programs. One of the first was a pilot program where some 20 doctors now use iPads to keep track of patients at a California hospital district.
At Kaweah Delta Health Care District in Visalia, doctors and staff already use smart phones, including the iPhone, to access the hospital’s network. During the launch, a small group of doctors in a trial run were given iPads to keep abreast of patients, whether they are off site or in another wing of the hospital.
Technology director Nick Volosin has already ordered another 100 iPads to equip hospital employees including home health and hospice care workers, nurses, dietitians and pharmacists.
The iPad has many plusses for hospital use, Volosin says: it’s easy to carry on rounds, has a 10-hour battery life and costs just $500. Volosin said that similar touchscreen devices have price tags close to $3,000.
“This is going to make my day easier and patient safety better because not only now I don’t have to find a work station to do what I need to do. What I need to do I can do it right there, right then, right now,” kidney specialist Dr. Roger Haley said.