5 ways I use my iPad at pediatric point of care

I love experimenting with different ways to use technology within my pediatric practice. The iPad has been an amazing device to adapt and use with my families.

Here are 5 different ways I use the iPad with my patients at the point-of-care.

  1. Referring. I have entered my favorite subspecialty providers into Contacts; including their name, address, phone number, and website URL. I list providers by specialty with “pediatric” preceding each listing in order for the contacts to be close to each other. If a referral is needed, I ask the family if I may send them an email with the information. For those who agree, I select the contact information, copy, and paste it into the body of a blank email. I send the email from an account specifically designated for this use – all before I leave the exam room.
  2. Sharing. I draw, doodle, and make lists when I talk to families. I now use a basic whiteboard app and a stylus to create digitally what I previously created with pen. And, instead of leaving my doodle in the chart, I can easily email my finished “masterpiece” to a parent’s inbox. Sharing in this way allows easier discussion with family members who may have not been at the appointment.
  3. Showing. Our practice website has interactive features, symptom guides, and social media links. I dramatically increase patient involvement with our site by providing simple instruction and direction with the website in my lap.
  4. Developmental “testing.” I have downloaded numerous apps for toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids in order to interactively assess developmental skills. For example, can a 1-year-old point at this picture with one finger? Can a 3-year-old match colors and shapes? Can a 5-year-old write her name on the whiteboard? Can a 7-year-old duplicate a mathematical pattern? The intuitive nature of the iPad allows interaction to happen with minimal instruction, and can occur while I am addressing parent questions and concerns.
  5. Distracting. The iPad’s novelty and magnetism can slow down even the most feisty 3-year-old. I can’t count the number of tympanic membranes I have been able to clearly examine when a child has been engaged with a game or e-book. I ask the parent to sit the child on their lap and engage the child with a simple activity. Parents can keep two hands on the iPad, while I can quickly get the exam completed.

I do not have any vested interest in Apple, or any apps mentioned in this post.

Natasha Burgert is a pediatrician who blogs at KC Kids Doc.

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  • http://getminders.com Jesse Middleton

    I love all of these use cases. How do you manage to back things up on the iPad? Are you simply syncing to iTunes or using some other applications to be sure simple things like doodles (which are very important) aren’t lost in the ether when a kid (or parents) drops the device?

    • http://kckidsdoc.com Natasha Burgert

      JM – Thx for reading. Every time I send anything to a patient via email, I always bcc: myself. Whiteboard doodles, for example, will then be in my inbox; I save/copy/print as I choose. Most whiteboard apps also allow you to “copy” your image to iPhoto. At that point, I also have a .jpg image to play with within different applications. Between my email account, iTunes syncing, and iPhoto – I haven’t lost an image yet! Would love any other suggestions…

      • http://getminders.com Jesse Middleton

        Not sure what they have for the iPad but for Android tablets you can use tools like Dropbox to automatically sync all of your files over the air (wirelessly) to a storage space. But it sounds like what you’re doing is working well.

  • Jack

    sound great but is you email secure/encrypted on BOTH ends? Otherwise this could be an issue with HIPPA.

    • http://kckidsdoc.com Natasha Burgert

      Jack – You are right! Patient privacy laws and HIPAA have to be respected, so I can only assume that the recipient is not encrypted. I only send information via email that I would feel comfortable leaving on my coffee table. In other words, publicly available information and no patient identifying information. WIth patient privacy respected, it can be done. Thanks for your comment.

      • Jack

        Natasha,
        Glad you found something that works for you. We struggle with emails due to HIPAA. Government isn’t making things easy. We have to create secure messaging for out patient which really puts an extra layer between physician and patients/doctors.
        Hope everyone has secure email in the future to make life easier.

        • http://www.max.md Max MD

          HIPAA compliant secure email solutions are deployed and working today. The NHIN Direct Project recognizes this need for secure email. Direct point-to-point solutions encrypted on both ends avoid the risks of leaving patient information on portals.

  • Chandra F.

    I’ve been looking to incorporate the iPad as a patient teaching tool as well and I’ve been shopping around for styluses. What do you normally use? I realize fine-tip isn’t exactly doable for capacitive touch screens like the iPad uses, but have you been able to find something useful for fairly detailed writing?

    • http://kckidsdoc.com Natasha Burgert

      I currently use this stylus (amzn.to/h1yW1L – not affiliated.) Certainly not like a fine-point pen, but with some practice.. it’s useful.

  • DL

    Reason number 257 why I want a freaking iPad! :)

    Shouldn’t “they” just give these to med students as a token of “their” appreciation for all of our pain and suffering? [They = anyone sympathetic to our cause. Could be Apple, our patients, our attendings, or my Mom]

  • http://kckidsdoc.com Natasha Burgert

    DL – Try your mom, first. :-)