Doctor Touts Tablet Computer for Improving Patient Care Delivery

February 21, 2011

One doc claims that by using a tablet computer, he and his colleagues are able to provide better, faster, and more comprehensive patient care, which leads to better outcomes. Check out the pros and cons of tablet computing.

Not all doctors are ditching their pagers, but more often than not they’re also using smart mobile computing devices to not only receive messages about patients, but also to access patient information on the go.

And like smartphones, a growing number of smart media tablets (like the iPad) are finding their way into the hands of doctors who want to deliver better care and improve patient outcomes.

That was the message one tablet-loving physician tried to spread to his peers during HIMSS’ Cisco-sponsored Monday afternoon session “Addressing Care Delivery Challenges with Tablet Computers.”

“It’s all about putting [patient] information in the hands of the provider,” said speaker Benjamin Kanter, the chief medical information officer at Palomar Pomerado Health System, and a physician.

At a conference where EHR systems, ICD-10 compliance, and mobile health solutions are the topics du jour, information on tablet computers and patient care delivery is to be expected. But actually seeing how an EHR system looks on a smaller, nine-inch screen made the case for using tablets even more compelling.

“I get all kinds of phone calls in the middle of the night from patients I can’t remember,” said Kanter, whose parent company Palomar used part of the session to unveil its “MIAA” tablet-tailored mobile computing platform, which is compatible with Google’s Android operating system. “From my standpoint as a physician … my opportunity to treat [patients] is fleeting. You don’t want me to experiment on your behalf. My judgment, with this device, is made easier.”

Kanter said that using EHR software on a tablet computer not only allows physicians like him to look up patient data from his health system, it also gives them one-touch access to data from other medical facilities via a health information exchange system. The amount of comprehensive information available instantly, from prescription data to medical history, would take hours to look up otherwise.

Although Kanter found that his life was made easier by using a tablet computer, healthcare IT consultant Marion Jenkins, CEO of QSE Technologies, said there are downsides to trading your laptop for a trendy tablet, especially if you’re a provider at a small practice.

“They’re more expensive than laptops, they don’t last as long, and they’re easier to steal,” said Jenkins.

On the flipside, “they’re portable, and they’re very powerful, and for certain people, if you like the point-and-click interface, they’re cool,” Jenkins added.

Marisa Torrieriis associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

Check out the rest of our HIMSS 2011 coverage here.