Apple’s iPad is increasingly useful in the medical device industry. Its wide range of applications provides instant access to reference, educational and personal information, and the touch tablet helps hospitals streamline operations, trim labor costs, increase efficiency, and assist with medical analysis and diagnosis. Pressured by consumer demand for improved care and instant access to medical information, health care providers embrace this new breed of medical devices. The surge of interest made iPads a disruptive technology in the medical device industry, performing a number of unexpectedly useful functions in health and medicine.
iPads in Hospitals
A number of hospitals have installed iPads in kiosks where medical staff, patients and visitors can look up information. Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital uses iPads to conduct On the Spot satisfaction surveys with all patients, for example. Several hospitals, including Singapore’s Changi General Hospital, have installed kiosks featuring iPads and Conveno software that people can use to navigate the facility.
New York Methodist Hospital health care providers use iPads as diagnostic aids while clinicians at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston use the tablet computers to access clinical information during patient consultations.
The iPad in Clinical Care
Applications, or apps, make the iPad a versatile tool in medicine. The number of medical apps is growing rapidly in response to the pressing demand by doctors, nurses, technicians and patients. Some hospitals are even developing their own apps.
Using paper charts impedes workflow, as physicians carry stacks of patient charts on their rounds, a system that is not only cumbersome but also prevents other doctors and nurses from accessing patient charts. Additionally, clinicians would frequently leave the patient’s bedside to look up information or access results.
Many institutions try mobile computing, either by wheeling around computers on trolleys or with tablet PCs. Each presents problems in clinical settings: trolleys take up valuable space and PCs run out of battery power too quickly. iPads provide a more practical solution in that they take up very little space, have a generous battery life, and allow multiple health care workers to access patient records.
iPads in Medical Education
Yale School of Medicine now use iPads as the primary source of medical teaching. The medical school announced in 2011 that it was giving each of its medical students an iPad 2 for coursework and clinical training, and that the students would no longer receive printed material. Other medical schools are following suit in an effort to improve efficiency and improve learning in an environmentally and cost-effective way.
There are countless iPad medical apps available. Airstrip Cardiology allows clinicians to review a patient’s electrocardiograph history. Practitioners can use Mobile MIM, a diagnostic imaging app, to manage medical images, including those from single-photon emission computed tomography, positron emission tomography, CT scan, magnetic resonance imaging, x-rays and ultrasound. Skeletal System Pro III and EyeDecide MD are learning apps but are also useful reference and identification tools.
The iPad continues to revolutionize the medical device industry, as patients and health care providers alike continue to push for medical devices that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of communication within the health care industry.
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