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SmartPhone Interfaces for EHRs

October 15, 2009 1 comment

Smartphone interfaces for EHRs will one day outstrip use of Tablets or Laptops or Desktops when it comes to using them!

SmartPhones are the most convenient devices when it comes to doing things at the “Point of Action”.  In individual Physician Practices, Smart Phone interfaces may not be needed as much as they are needed in Hospitals and Emergency Rooms.

In some hospitals, they have been using desktops or laptops mounted on litle desks with wheels to be wheeled along or set in a corner. They are tethered to the Hospital backend systems with Wireless or Wired connections.  They seem clunky and inconvenient to use but never the less seem to be used.

Tablets or Laptops may be convenient also but not as convenient as a small form factor computer like an iPhone, iPodTouch, BlackBerry or Android phone! These are especially handy when used in Emergency situations like in an ambulance while taking in vitals and other readings and sending them ahead to the hospital emergency room. This can enable the hospital to be ready for the patient and speed up a lot of communication that happens only when the ambulance arrives at the hospital.

Even in the Hospital in-Patient rooms or the Operating Room, SmartPhones are easier to deal with than a laptop or a desktop even with wireless connectivity.

The problem with EHR SmartPhone interfaces is to come up with natural, easy to use interfaces. With a small form factor it is quite a task to fit a lot of what goes into an EHR interface into such a small space. Even with large LCD screens EHR interfaces take up a lot of the screen real-estate. Compressing a lot of that into a small screen like that of a smart phone is quite a task!

Quite a challenge but very useful if someone does it!

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Role of Small Form Factor Devices Underestimated Today!

September 10, 2009 Leave a comment

Many EHR adoption failures can be laid at the feet of User Interfaces at the Point Of Care. Many physicians and nurses never get used to doing their work somewhat differently from the way it was done before with pen and paper!

I was a member of Kaiser Permanente, before EHR rollout and after EHR rollout! Forget the caregivers, I was very disturbed as a patient when my Physician kept turning away from me every two minutes to type something into the EHR on the desktop that was suspended from the ceiling! I can understand how the Physician can feel that this has changed the way they deliver medical care!

This is where small form factor devices could come in handy and could solve some of these problems but they are totally underestimated today!

Devices like the iPhone and iPod Touch are very easy and natural for physicians and nurses to use and it’s only a matter of time before these devices take over a lot of the EHR functions piece by piece!

If you are a nurse taking a patient’s vitals you just need that screen where you type in the details and record them. You don’t need the whole kit and kaboodle of the EHR user interface!

iPhones, iPodTouches and other SmartPhones may already be replacing pagers in healthcare! With processors becoming faster, these devices becoming less expensive, it’s only a matter of time that they get adopted quickly!

If these are woefully inadequate, there are always these rumors of a midsize iTablet device from Apple! 

Small form factor devices are coming! Good EHR software vendors seem to be working on these small form device interfaces already!

Doctors in the Making may be more Tech Savvy than we think!

August 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Doctors in the making may be more tech savvy than we think!

Here’s an interesting article about a survey they did among 1000 medical students. The findings are surprising!

Survey: Future docs view IT, mobility as critical

 

This survey found that a full 45% surveyed used the iPhone or iPodTouch and they were regularly using applications like Epocrates ,  an online application and a ready reference for drugs and diseases.  A large number of others who did not use these smartphones were planning to get one in the next year or so.

Bythe time these Medical Students finish their interships and start practicing, they will be clamoring for mobile versions of EHR, not just EHR!

Already many EHR vendors have made it easy to roll out EHR packages to Physician practices using local wireless communication and handheld tablets.  Working with a tied down computer like a desktop or a laptop with a wired network connection impdes the proper way of practice that Physicians prefer. With paper records, it is easy to face the patient, converse with them, and take notes at the same time.

With a tied down computer, it makes it awkward for physicians to turn back and forth between the patient and the computer. Sounds like a small thing, but heard that physicians really need to become comfortable with this kind of performing their work.

With wireless communication, tablets and always on connectivity to the internet, physicians that complete their education and training being comfortable with online applications like Epocrates are suddenly empowered to everyone’s benefit.

In the above article, it says that applications like Epocrates lets Interns consult the application instead of the attending physician. This may be very convenient and may provide more accurate information to Doctors in the making but as many Physicians like to say, “It may not teach them the Art of Medicine, only the Science!”.

The net net is that even as short as five years from now, we will have a crop of doctors that are much much more savvy with EHR, computing, online, wireless and handheld computing.

Many of our current stereotypes may already be outdated, only to be wrong even more in five years’ time, I am guessing!