With the advances in technology, the medical industry has seen so many changes in the last few years, in patient care, hospital administration, education and so many other sectors. However, it's one particular gadget that had everyone in the industry excited when it first came out - Apple's iPad. Today, it's a ubiquitous gadget that has changed the computing world.
Initially, many thought the iPad was an overpriced toy, but professionals in the medical field already saw its potential. In a recent study, it was found that the healthcare industry is one of the top 3 adopters of the iPad. So, how has the iPad changed, and more importantly, helped the medical industry?
Solution: Electronic Medical Records in the Cloud
Many institutions have been pushing EMR or electronic medical records for many years, but it has always been thought to be clunky and expensive. Most hospitals or offices would need several terminals or devices accessing a physical server or data storage unit in the hospital. At most, you probably could install one terminal in every floor, rather than have one in every patient room, which would cost too much and doesn't make sense if you just need to access a patient's records once or twice a day.
However, with the advances in technology, these concerns are being addressed. Cloud computing, which is responsible for making the iPad possible, has greatly contributed to making software cheaper and more accessible. Cloud computing refers to the use of software as a service, rather than a product. Your software and data can reside "in the cloud" (the Internet), rather than your physical computer. You just access it when you need it. Technicalities aside, what this means for you is that all the data you need sits on a server somewhere, and can be accessed by any compatible device.
So, say you're a doctor making your rounds and had to visit several patients in different floors. Before, you'd have to carry or read up on the records of each patient, review them and then visit the patient. However, with all the necessary data residing on the cloud (and at your fingertips), you can access all of your patients' medical records, progress charts, and even medication schedules with one swipe of the touchscreen. You can review the records in-between floors or while taking a coffee break. And this is exactly what hospitals that are using the iPad and cloud computing are doing. Chicago area hospitals were the first to adapt the iPads for their staff when the iPad came out in 2010, and many more around the country are following suit.
MetroSouth Medical Center in Blue Island was one of the first to adapt the iPads to their daily rounds. Aside from increasing efficiency, the staff and doctors as this hospital realized other benefits of using the iPad. Doctors at the hospital can show patients their ailments and can fully explain to them about their injuries and illnesses. This allows the patients to participate in their care, and help put them at ease. The doctors at Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago use the iPad and Keynote to help explain procedures to kids undergoing major surgery. Practitioners have noticed the kids in particular are in-tune with technology and having the information (given to them in an age-appropriate manner) puts them at ease.
Aside from these benefits, hospital administrators who install iPads in their hospitals can see a reduction in red tape, and more importantly, paperwork.
The Future of Hospitals and Patient Centered Care
A few years ago, all these things would have sounded like science fiction – something you only see on Start Trek and the movies. However, these technologies are becoming a reality today, and more importantly, they are helping to transform a medical industry that is patient-centered. Patient-centered care refers to the delivering of health care to patients that is mutually beneficial to the patient, the family, practitioners and providers. Information is the key to such relationships, and with the iPad, the medical industry is moving towards the future.