Apple iPad – The Bridge Between Mobility And Medicine

We are halfway through 2013 and its about time we take our health care mobile. Wouldn’t it be great to keep track of our daily health on the go. From health records, lab values, prescriptions, appointment reminders to medical information, fitness programs and more. Back in 2009 when Symbian S60 was on the high, it had immense potential to take health care mobile. We explored a few ventures with it. There were quite a few Apps too, that were doing the job, but unfortunately the S60 era came to an abrupt end. Later over the course of time smartphones and touchscreens spread to the streets like a virus and by now smartphone usage has grown so much that majority of the population now uses not one but two smartphones. This is thus the perfect time to bridge the gap between mobility and medicine. Two of the biggest hospitals one in USA (Mayo) and the other in Canada (Ottawa Hospital) have actively added iPad to their hospital medical service portfolio both for physicians and patients and have seen this as a key business decision with improved patient and physician compliance. This has also proved to bring better patient outcomes with having them actively explore their medical condition on the iPad with animations, videos and pictures. Apple has rightly said, “Whether it’s the new iPad mini or the iPad with Retina display, there’s an iPad for every business.”

Catch the profiles of both these hospitals below and see what iPad has changed.


1. Mayo Clinic

With this technology, we can be more accurate and more complete which means better outcomes and safer care.” Dr. John H. Noseworthy, President and CEO, Mayo Clinic

As one of the world’s most respected medical research and treatment centers, Mayo Clinic is known for its ongoing innovations in health care. And now there’s another breakthrough: Using custom apps for physicians and patients on iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini, Mayo is transforming the capabilities of individualized patient care.

Since the late 19th century, Mayo Clinic has been at the forefront of medical technology. “We had the development of the heart-lung machine, and the first total hip replacement,” says Dr. John H. Noseworthy, President and CEO. “Mayo Clinic is really a model of what health care could be.

The clinic’s adoption of iPhone, iPad, and custom in-house apps reflects the Mayo Clinic’s commitment to the latest advances. With more than 15,000 iOS devices on the clinic’s network, building apps for this platform was a priority.

“iPhone, iPad, and apps make communication easier. We’re providing real value to our staff, but also ultimately to our patients.” Mark Henderson, Division Chair, Information Technology, Mayo Clinic



Better Access to EMR

To make the most of electronic medical records (EMRs) and other data, Mayo developed Synthesis Mobile, a powerful app that taps into hundreds of internal systems, giving physicians instant access to patient details via iPhone or iPad.

“Now I can sit with a patient, have an eye-to-eye conversation, and show them their CAT scan or a video about treatment options,” Leibovich says. “I can use Synthesis Mobile to notify staff to change an IV setting, or do order entry and charge capture right from the application.”

Synthesis Mobile saves time — a lot of it. “I’m more efficient and faster, and I’m doing less work between patients,” says Leibovich.

During the course of a day, Synthesis Mobile saves most physicians at least an hour of their time.” Dr. Brad Leibovich, Mayo Clinic

Apps for Healthier Patients

Mayo Clinic has also developed other iPhone and iPad apps, including Ask Mayo Expert, which provides a point-of-care resource for Mayo Clinic Care Network members, and the Mayo Clinic Patient app, which lets patients securely access their EMRs and exchange messages with physicians.

“For patients dealing with any health issue, information is power,” Leibovich notes. “The more we can empower them to understand what’s going on with them, the better they’ll feel and the better their outcomes will be.”



A Secure Ecosystem

With the built-in security and the development tools in the iOS SDK, building these apps was a smooth process for Mayo’s IT team.

“The iOS ecosystem absolutely was the right technology for Mayo Clinic,” Henderson says. “We looked at a variety of other options, and none of them had what the iOS environment had. iOS provided the security we were looking for — encryption, the VPN environment, and the ability to write applications that leave no data on the device that we would consider confidential.”

iOS also makes app creation more efficient. “As we developed our applications, the portability really became evident. What we develop for one device runs on all the iOS devices,” Henderson says.

Intuitive Technology for Better Care

As medical technologies continue to advance, physicians need equally advanced tools to communicate, manage data, and deliver the best possible patient care.

“The future is going to be amazing technology-wise,” Henderson says. “Mayo Clinic is just touching the surface of what’s possible. In terms of trying to be more efficient and providing the best care, the apps we’ve written have definitely given us a vision of where we can go in the future.”

“It really brings us back to the time when health care was a personal interaction between the physician and the patient,” adds Leibovich. “We can integrate iPhone, iPad, and apps seamlessly with patient interactions, without the technology getting in the way.”


2. The Ottawa Hospital

Not only has iPad increased efficiency from a provider perspective — it’s increased engagement between the provider and patient.” Dale Potter, Senior Vice President Strategy and Transformation, The Ottawa Hospital

Bedside care is a vital part of health care professionals’ relationships with their patients. But the staff at The Ottawa Hospital found that modern technology sometimes made those interactions more difficult. “Since the introduction of technology in this industry,” Senior Vice President Dale Potter explains, “physicians have been tethered to devices like PCs and forced to go seek information. Even a laptop wasn’t truly mobile.”

This inability to bring information to the bedside meant physicians had to constantly shuttle between patients and tethered PCs to get status updates, schedule surgeries, prescribe drugs, view X-rays, and perform other important tasks.

When Apple introduced iPad, physicians at The Ottawa Hospital knew they’d found a solution. With iPad, the hospital’s doctors and nurses have bedside access to everything they need, and can remain in contact with patients and their families while viewing information that is critical to their care.

“They can answer patients’ questions immediately and make decisions about what’s going to be done, with the most current information available,” says Dr. Glen Geiger, Chief Medical Information Officer. “Nothing beats being able to use an app to pull up an X-ray on the device.”



Increased Patient Interaction

Physicians at The Ottawa Hospital have started using iPad in innovative new ways. They can use the built-in iPad camera to photograph a patient’s wound during treatment, and store the image in the patient’s electronic medical record for future reference.

Using iPad, physicians can show patients the progress of their recovery right at the bedside, Dr. Geiger notes. “I can say, ‘Here’s what your wound looked like three weeks ago.’ I’m showing them what it looked like then and what it looks like today.”

iPad fits physicians’ workflows in many ways, Potter says: “The form factor of iPad is very attractive. The screen size is optimal. There’s almost instant access to information. Battery life exceeds the length of a shift. It’s critically important for a physician to be able to know that they can rely on that device, work for an entire shift, and provide the same level of care to all their patients.”



Substantial Time Savings

The Ottawa Hospital has also developed an in-house app called the Clinical Mobile App. The app facilitates three major aspects of physicians’ daily workflows: accessing patients’ clinical information, viewing clinical images such as X-rays and CT scans, and ordering clinical tests and prescriptions.

iPad and the Clinical Mobile App enable physicians to significantly reduce the time they spend reviewing patients’ cases before making their rounds each morning. “This would take several hours,” Dr. Geiger says. “We would just be sitting in the room going over each case.” The process was so time-consuming that some non-critical care patients often didn’t get to see their physicians that day.

But iPad and the Clinical Mobile App have changed all that. “Now we meet first thing in the morning, make sure we have a complete record of all the patients, and immediately start to see them,” says Dr. Geiger.

By eliminating lengthy meetings and the need to shuttle between patients and tethered PCs, Potter estimates the physicians save approximately two hours per day in their clinical care activities. “Not only has iPad increased efficiency from a provider perspective — it’s increased engagement between the provider and patient,” he says.

“Developing on the iOS platform is actually fairly quick. We’re talking days and weeks as opposed to months and sometimes years.” Valérie Gamache-O’Leary, Chief Information Officer, The Ottawa Hospital

Quick Development Times

In addition to the Clinical Mobile App, the hospital has developed three other custom apps: a pain study app to document a patient’s pain thresholds and determine proper treatment; a hand hygiene app to record and report on hand hygiene compliance; and a patient rounding app with a standard set of questions that nurses ask patients on a daily basis, so the answers are recorded in a consistent way.

“Developing on the iOS platform is actually fairly quick,” says Valérie Gamache-O’Leary, Chief Information Officer. “Compared to applications in other environments, you’re able to iterate through versions of software, get them into production, and test them very, very quickly. We’re talking days and weeks as opposed to months and sometimes years.”

A Hospital-Wide Solution

The Ottawa Hospital has thousands of iOS devices in circulation. Physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and executives rely on iPad, and many other employees also use iPhone and iPod touch. “A housekeeper can say, ‘I’m in this room, I’m at this bed, and it’s ready for a patient,’ and that information can be immediately transmitted from their iPod touch or iPhone,” Potter says.

Among the hospital’s executives, iPad is a key part of the drive toward paper-free meetings. “Everyone has an iPad,” says Potter. “We can intercommunicate with each other. We can share documents. There really is no reason for us to have paper in our meetings.”

“I believe iPad represents the future of patient-centered care at The Ottawa Hospital.”

Dr. Glen Geiger, Chief Medical Information Officer, The Ottawa Hospital

The Future of Patient Care

As Potter walks through the hospital, he finds physicians engaging with patients the way they used to many decades ago. “As I observe the physicians doing their work, they’re at the bedside interacting with patients and family members,” he says. “There’s an intimacy there that wasn’t possible before iPad.”

In fact, he adds, “The riskiest thing I could do in my position as CIO at The Ottawa Hospital is try to take iPads away from my users!”

iPad and apps help physicians at The Ottawa Hospital interact more effectively with patients and provide more immediate, focused treatment. “iPad and apps have changed the way we deliver care,” Dr. Geiger says. “It’s the foundation for patients becoming more directly engaged with their own health care. I believe iPad represents the future of patient-centered care at The Ottawa Hospital.”

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