Healthcare News & Insights

Tablets boost med students’ study time, test results

Do the iPad and other tablets have a place in healthcare? While the devices may not be common yet for certain functions, many doctors and other experts say tablets have a lot of benefits for the medical field. 

One benefit: They could help medical students study, according to a recent report in the journal Neurosurgery.

Students in a neurosurgery residency training program at UCLA were issued tablets preinstalled with interactive educational applications and videos. The tablets could also access a digital library of textbooks, journal articles and other content.

The result: The students studied more and improved their performance on exams.

When a group of participating students was surveyed, 92% said the tablet and digital library increased the time they spent studying outside of the hospital. And while the digital library could also be accessed through personal desktops or laptops, two-thirds of students said the tablet was their main tool for accessing the content.

Increasing study time outside of the hospital was an important goal, researchers said, because of work-hour limits intended to avoid fatigue among the residents.

More studying has seemingly paid off. A year into the program, the residents’ performance on a standard neurosurgical knowledge test improved in 16 out of 17 topic areas.

This isn’t the first research demonstrating a benefit of tablet computers in health care. In a study published earlier this year, 115 residents in internal medicine at the University of Chicago were issued iPads. The residents got good use out of the devices, as 90% said they used the device regularly for their clinical responsibilities, 78% said the tablet made them more efficient, and 68% said it helped avoid delays in administering care to patients.

Researchers also looked at when the residents placed patient-care orders after new patients were admitted, comparing data from after the iPads were provided to information 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.

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