Things You Don’t Know About Medical Tablets
Exclusive Article by Dennis Hung at EMRIndustry
Fast. Portable. Information at your fingertips. Real-time lab results, images and clinical decision-making support at the bedside. These are some of the benefits touted for electronic medical records from a wireless tablet. Medical tablets — a form of mobile notebook PC designed to be used in the healthcare industry — began to appear on the scene in 2001. With the Federal government’s push for electronic records and the need to handle medical information on the go, the medical tablet fills a need not met by the standard desktop PC. Like any new technology, however, there are some important considerations.
Train, Train, Train
An electronic medical record and operational software require huge process changes in your organization’s workflow. Each tablet also has operational differences that the user must learn. Plan to train initially, retrain within a few weeks and do periodic refreshers. Your training should also include competency validation; accurate data entry ensures good-quality information. Physicians in particular will embrace these new information systems more readily if they feel competent in their use. Training physicians often goes better if they can work one-on-one with a skilled trainer than in a peer group; although it may be more costly and time-consuming, in the long run it’s more effective.
It seems there’s an article about an security breach nearly every day. In addition to personal and financial information, your medical tablet contains patient information protected under HIPAA. A tablet PC goes where you go; set it down and forget it, and it could easily be stolen. Leave a screen up and it’s visible to anyone walking by. that means changing people’s behavior to promote security, which isn’t easy. You and/or your organization must develop policies to prevent data breaches and ensure there is adequate technical support to develop and monitor electronic security.
What You See
Enterprise imaging — the reading, storing, viewing and management of all medical images, including X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, arteriograms, gastroenterology and pulmonology studies, and ultrasounds — is a major hurdle for most health-care organizations. From a user’s perspective, using PACS system or other radiology information system to have the image at your fingertips for a quick review may enable you to give better care, check a detail or show the patient exactly what’s going on. From a technological perspective, it means you can’t hang four large slightly different X-rays in front of you and compare them. You may need to switch screens or enlarge them one at a time. Choosing your tablet carefully may help mitigate some of these issues.
Tablets are available from a variety of different vendors. While that’s great news in terms of having multiple options, it also means there may be issues with software and hardware compatibility. In addition, you will have to deal with other health organizations (clinical labs, free-standing imaging, billing, private physician offices) that use different equipment and software. You can also expect that the physicians within your organization may have some decided ideas about what they want in a tablet, and not all will agree. The BYOD (bring your own device) movement, the explosion of health apps and smartphones, and the need for communication among patients, doctors and organizations means the ability to integrate information is crucial. Your tablet must be able to handle not only today’s needs, but be ready for the almost constant changes that bring new applications to market in a constant stream of change.
Tablets can provide easy information access, minimize paperwork, save time and money (after the initial expense, that is), according to an article in HealthIT News. Imaging capabilities, including video and voice, offer many opportunities. As they spread throughout the health-care system they are becoming more flexible, powerful and secure. The possibilities are immense and can help medical professionals in their search to provide better care.