10 ways an Apple iPad can help doctors improve patient care

The current (first generation) Apple iPad probably won’t run a robust electronic health record (EHR).

10 ways an Apple iPad can help doctors improve patient care However, it may run some iPhone/iPod touch EHR/EMR apps. I think most physicians will prefer to use a standard tablet PC instead of the iPad. However, given that a large percentage of physicians are not using the tablet in the outpatient office setting, perhaps they could leverage the iPad in the following ways:

1. Use the iPad to teach patients. Leverage multimedia resources such as patient videos, animations, diagrams, charts, etc. to teach patients about specific diseases and conditions.

2. Allow patients to use the iPad to learn about health/wellness as they’re waiting for the doctor. Could you imagine what it would be like to walk into a doctor’s office and to find an iPad on the chair? The screen could say: “pick me up and learn how to improve your health.” Then, it could go through an interactive educational module with the patient while he/she waits for the physician to enter the room. Patients could also read the latest medical/health news on the iPad.

3. Use the iPad to take notes. Who needs a clipboard? Even if you’re not using an electronic health record (EHR) or electronic medical record (EMR) in your office, you can still use the iPad to take some notes.

4. Allow patients to retrieve their personal health record or PHR information from the Internet. You probably don’t want to hand them your tablet PC that contains your EHR/EMR data, but maybe you’ll be OK handing them an iPad that’s connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi.

5. Let patients check their e-mail and browse the web while they’re waiting. They’re probably already doing that with their smartphones. Provide them a device that’s bigger and easier to use.

6. Mount the iPad on the wall and use it for some of the things described above. This way, it won’t fall or walk away. Plus, you could use it as a digital photo frame.

7. Play some soothing music in the exam room. Have anxious patients? Play some relaxing tunes. Treating depressed patients? Play some music that will cheer them up.

8. Allow patients to use the iPad calendar to schedule their next appointment.

9. Games. Do you treat children? Let them play some games on the iPad. They will love visits to the doctor’s office! They’ll be asking their parents, “Can we please go to the doctor’s office today? Please?”

10. As a physical exam tool. You could use the iPad to conduct mini mental exams and other diagnostic evaluations. Need them to remember 3 objects? Provide them with visual aids. Performing a psychometric evaluation? Skip the paper and go straight to the iPad.

There are obviously many other ways you could use an iPad in the office. Once Apple drops the prices on these devices, we can expect to see many physician offices leveraging the iPad in creative and educational ways to improve patient health and to also enhance the clinical workflow.

Joseph Kim is a physician-executive who blogs at Mobile Health Computing.

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  • ed stevenson

    why not just get a touch screen computer for almost the same price and can do everything stated (and more) – better. If apple came out with a tin can the world would hoggle over it and be so impressed with all the things you could do with the iCan that you could always do before but cheaper

  • Ed Stevenson

    Or you could get a touchscreen computer for about the same price that does everything stated (and more) – Better! half of these objective could be accomplished with some paper copies, at a fraction of the cost and must lower environmental impact.
    If apple came out with a tin can, everyone would hoggle over it and say how great it is and be amazed with the innovation of steve jobs and his iCan that does everything tin cans have always done for centuries but now in an expensive manner that makes steve jobs very rich.

  • http://www.phrondemand.com Suresh Kumar PHR

    Great insight, I am certain the iPad will make it into patient’s lives in an outpatient setting for all the reasons mentioned above as well as more – such as PreRegistration, forms to be filled, Demo updates, billing sumary. most important of all “a 2-way exchange of patient data” To and From provider.

    Ed, touchscreens are not as portable as iPad/other mobile pad not to mention “privacy”. As the technological savvy generations age to be patients, these will become a huge factor – THEY WILL NOT accept paper or faxes. Actually THEY WILL DEMAND it (www.phrondemand.com) Environmental impact – comm’n. long term outlook, which one??

    Now apple needs to work on the cost. That’s why we have the “ever-changing technological advancements”

  • http://picisinc.wordpress.com Carlos M. Nunez, M.D.

    This is an interesting take on the use of the iPad in medicine. Many bloggers and columnists (a href=”http://picisinc.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/will-tablet-computing-finally-find-a-place-in-healthcare/”>myself included) have focused on the pure HIT possibilities of the iPad, while you have focused a bit more on the social and patient interaction side. I agree that the friendly form factor and touch screen interface make the device a possible platform for many of the kiosk-type functions you highlight, but I envision the iPad as a much more personal and intimate device; a clinicians window into a larger collection of information. A purpose-built kiosk is something meant for public and shared use, that is less likely to be dropped or stolen, of which there are many viable contenders already available.