Doctors and nurses used advanced computer systems to protect patient data early on, but they experienced problems with slow devices and limited mobility. As patients complained about the increased computer time required, healthcare professionals immediately started looking for a better solution.
Tablets quickly became a top option for the healthcare industry, with screens large enough to easily input patient data, but small enough to transport easily around a hospital or clinic. Their relatively inexpensive cost and increasing number of healthcare-related apps make them a popular choice for healthcare professionals. We’ve explored the pros and cons of tablets in healthcare, and the latest features that create better communication between healthcare professionals and their patients.
Uptake of tablets in healthcare
When doctors and nurses started using computer systems to safely input patient data, they ran into multiple complications. First, each patient room needed a computer, or doctors had to carry heavy laptops with them everywhere. In addition, the time required to input data took away from face-to-face time with individuals. Many patients complained about their doctor’s constant need to type away and check the computer screen for errors. With doctor and nurse shortages in many areas of the country, busy healthcare professionals felt pressured to see as many clients as possible, but traditional computers didn’t really help them with productivity.
Enter the tablet. Once these devices were capable of HIPAA compliance and encryption, doctors and nurses immediately saw a solution to their problems. Unlike laptops or desktop computers, tablets are easy to carry around. Hospitals and clinics quickly approved this cost-effective technology. As doctors and nurses began using tablets, other healthcare professionals joined them, creating effective communication between hospitals, pharmacies, referring physicians, and even researchers. Understanding the pros and cons of tablets in healthcare suggests that this technology is here to stay, creating better communication methods for healthcare professionals and their clients.
Benefits of tablets in healthcare
- The perfect balance between computers and smartphones
- Healthcare professionals choose tablets over computers because of their mobility, but the large screen size makes it easier to use than a smart phone. Screens are large enough to show patients medical images without walking to another room or trying to zoom in on a tiny smart phone image. Longer-than-expected battery life makes it easier for busy professionals to use these items before stopping to re-charge the device.
- Low cost
- Tablets are a cheaper alternative for professional settings, but they’re especially cost-effective for large organizations like hospitals or clinics. Most companies get a discount when they outfit their entire organization with tablets.
- Apps aplenty
- With nearly 100,000 health care-related apps on the market, tablets gave healthcare professionals easy access to the latest research in their field, up-to-date information on medications and side effects, and fast access to information from other professionals. With a tablet, it’s easy for doctors to connect with pharmacists and make the best decision for patients with input from both specialties.
- Easy connectivity and training
- A hospital setting typically uses a mix of Wi-Fi and hardwired technology. Fortunately, it’s easy to connect with a variety of options with a tablet. In addition, the intuitive interface and simple technology of a tablet reduces training time and costs. It’s easier to implement tablet technology in the healthcare setting without wasting hours of valuable time training employees on the latest update.
- Mobile imaging
- Connected tablets make it easy for doctors and nurses to compare patient data obtained at different visits. For example, a doctor can pull up before-and-after photos to show a patient how well their broken bone healed. It’s easy for medical staff to reference ultrasounds, x-rays, and PACS images with a tablet, and the mobile device makes it easy to show patients exactly what’s going on. Mobile imaging also reduces the cost of film and labor, increasing the cost-effective qualities of tablets.
- Accurate documentation
- Ensuring accurate documentation for each patient is always a challenge for healthcare professionals, but tablets make it easier to identify and correct errors. Apps that consolidate redundant data eliminate hours of time spent filling in information, giving doctors more time to focus on their patients. In addition, healthcare professionals get immediate access to new data, so your information is already in the system when patients switch from a general practitioner to a specialist.
- Computerized drug order entry
- We’ve all seen terrible doctor handwriting, and in the past this led to miscommunication and errors between doctors and pharmacists. However, computerized drug order entry lets doctors or surgeons enter medical orders as they go, reducing the errors found in hand-written orders and adding medications to a patient’s records immediately. Tablets also offer immediate data on contraindications, so the technology prevents patients from accidentally getting a drug that interacts with another medication or an allergy.
Challenges for tablets in healthcare
- Safeguarding protected health information is a constant challenge for healthcare facilities. Advanced data encryption ensures the safety of patient’s information, but tech designers who create products for healthcare work especially hard to stay ahead of anything that could put patient information at risk.
- Although tablets help hospitals connect Wi-Fi and hard-wired technologies, it’s essential for IT professionals to examine all existing systems at their facility. In a hospital setting, it takes time to find and eliminate all loopholes and bottlenecks to ensure everything runs perfectly.
- User-friendly innovation
- Patients want information and health care updates, so professionals must stay up-to-date with the latest trends and innovations that enhance communication. Although there are thousands of healthcare apps on the market, it’s important for professionals to identify and use the options that best fit their patients’ needs.
Up-and-coming tablet trends
Tablet technology advances quickly, and many companies view healthcare as the perfect industry for innovative technologies. Watch for these trends in the near future.
- Augmented reality
- Advanced 3D training modules help medical students learn technology without ever opening a cadaver. This is especially important for training doctors in rural or remote areas, where the nearest cadaver lab is often hundreds of miles away.
- For patients, augmented reality is even more important. A breakthrough technology now allows doctors to combine data from CT and MRI scans and create 3D, holographic images. Although 3D imaging isn’t a new technology, the ability to interact with these tissues as if they were real objects shows promise for less invasive surgeries and advanced imaging techniques.
- SmartMATCH technology
- The healthcare industry loses hundreds of thousands of dollars each year when important patient referrals get lost in an endless trail of paper and faxes. For patients, referrals that fail to reach the proper specialist result in long wait times and potentially dangerous situations. A recent advancement in SmartMATCH technology helps doctors find the most appropriate, high-quality specialist for a patient’s condition. The technology eliminates lost referrals by integrating seamlessly with all major hospital management systems.
Tablets continue to create positive changes for the healthcare industry. As healthcare professionals turn to this fantastic option for patient communication, they build understanding between different parts of the healthcare industry and eliminate problems within hospital systems. Patients can expect more attentive doctors and nurses, more accurate data, and better matches for medications and referrals with this great technology. In the future, we expect tablets to increase communication between doctors and patients at home, creating an advanced healthcare system that benefits patients, administrators, and healthcare professionals.