Healthcare News & Insights

Why your hospital needs to ditch the computer mouse

Over the years, technology has transformed care delivery in hospitals, especially mobile technology. But despite this, many electronic health records systems (EHRs) require the use of a stationary desktop computer station and mouse. Some say this is a detriment to delivering fast, quality care in hospitals, and several solutions have been proposed to change this – including dropping the use of a mouse altogether. 

A blog post on KevinMDgettyimages-541578584 explains why this might be the best bet for hospitals.

Dr. Suneel Dhand, director of HealthITImprove (a firm that specializes in streamlining IT for health care), discussed why the mouse is the one piece of equipment that slows down clinicians’ workflows the most.

Effect on productivity

For starters, clicking around on a computer screen to enter information into different portions of patients’ medical records is time-consuming.

For example, if a doctor needs to order medication for a patient, the provider uses the mouse to pull up the screen and click on a menu to log in. Then the doctor must use the mouse again to find the icon for medication order entry. After this menu pops up, the provider types the medication order in and clicks the mouse one last time to send the order.

The one order can take several minutes. Multiply that by a full caseload of patients, and it can equal hours of time spent just on one portion of the day’s computer work. Any other updates to patients’ records take additional time.

Benefits of touchscreens

To solve this problem, Dr. Dhand proposes a solution commonly found in other industries: using touchscreen technology instead of a mouse to navigate computer screens. The restaurant industry is one area where touchscreens have replaced the mouse when entering food orders into computers for customers.

Because almost all providers have smartphones with touchscreens nowadays, this type of technology is more intuitive. Doctors could simply tap the areas they wanted to edit, instead of having to click the screen with a mouse multiple times.

In some cases, EHR vendors have made their interfaces more mobile-friendly. So as long as the devices providers use are safe and secure, they may be able to access the system using the touchscreen of a tablet or smartphone while on hospital grounds.

Plus, touchscreen technology may even be more sanitary than using a traditional mouse. A computer mouse can often harbor germs, particularly in areas of the hospital such as the intensive care unit, and it’s difficult to disinfect every part of the device. But screens can be wiped down with electronic disinfectant wipes on a regular basis.

Overall, Dr. Dhand said, transitioning to touchscreen will lead to better patient care, as providers will spend less time fumbling with computer equipment and more time face-to-face with patients. They’ll also be able to perform administrative tasks faster and more efficiently, reducing the risk of error and streamlining care delivery.

So it may be time for your hospital to look into the feasibility of upgrading its computer equipment or mobile devices to replace the mouse.

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