Healthcare News & Insights

Study: iPads help docs provide faster, more efficient care

iPads and other tablet computers are becoming increasingly popular with doctors – and a new study says those devices can make healthcare organizations more efficient and prevent delays in providing care. 

Many doctors have started using tablet computers in their work, with most of them choosing Apple’s popular iPad. That’s despite the fact that most physicians say their organizations don’t provide IT support for tablets.

The lack of formal support stems mostly from concerns about protecting sensitive patient data when it’s held on a portable tablet. However, a recent study conducted by the University of Chicago Medicine could convince some organizations to find ways to allow doctors to use iPads in a secure way.

The study, published recently in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine, found that iPads can help make clinicians work more efficiently and provide care more quickly.

In 2010, the university gave iPads to all 115 of its residents in internal medicine. In a survey conducted in 2011:

  1. 90% of the residents said they used the device regularly for their clinical responsibilities
  2. 78% said the tablet made them more efficient, and
  3. 68% said it helped avoid delays in administering care to patients.

Data collected from the hospital’s EHR system backed up what the residents reported. Researchers looked at when the residents placed patient-care orders after new patients were admitted, comparing data from after the iPads were provided to info recorded in the months leading up to the implementation.

The results: After they started using the iPads, residents submitted 5% more orders before their 7 am rounds, and 8% more orders before they left the hospital at 1 pm.

Of course, this doesn’t mean all healthcare organizations should jump into providing iPads and other tablets for doctors and staff members — if tablets are supported, it’s important to plan thoroughly to cut down on potential security risks as much as possible.

To minimize those risks while allowing doctors to reap the benefits of tablets, IT departments can consider options such as:

  1. Storing all data on a central server, rather than on the devices themselves, and requiring tablets to access the data through a secure connection
  2. Encrypting all devices and enabling remote wipe for lost or stolen tablets, and
  3. Training doctors on the unique security risks of tablet computers.

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