Is the iPad the new paper chart?

I have always been reluctant to use tablets. Some models are heavy and bulky and their batteries wear out in the middle of the day. I like to type. (I am sure I can get a job as an administrative assistant if the rest of my day jobs don’t work out.) My current office is hard wired with desktop PCs. I haven’t had a problem in six years with any patient abuse except for the occasional toddler who is magnetically drawn to the blue button and is compelled to turn it off.

Since I am married to the technical/programming gadget guy, we had to go buy a few iPads the week they were released to see how Office Practicum might successfully adapt to the device. I have to admit, I can see myself using one. They are significantly cheaper than a tablet and batteries last much longer. I am familiar with the navigation tools since I already use an iPhone.

Picking up the iPad, it occurred to me that this is the first device that feels like a paper chart. It’s about the same size and depending on the age/complexity of the patient chart, about the same weight. I can sit in front of a patient holding the unit and it doesn’t feel like a barrier. There is a tiny docking station that you can put on your desk to charge the unit while using it, and it can be paired with a wireless keyboard for us typers. I can open up an MCHAT survey, hand it to the parent, and have them complete it. (Or better yet, have my nurse do that while the patient is waiting for me.)

We used a solution called Wyse PocketCloud (much like GoToMyPC) to access my OP server on the iPad. I could navigate the patient chart pretty easily and I sent an e-Rx from my living room. When the model with 3G is released, I plan to take this to the soccer field, look up a patient chart and send prescriptions while I am on call. There is an immediate application for the device.

To come: The fun task of figuring out creative ways Office Practicum might make optimal use of the iPad with “native” applications, not just connecting to my desktop remotely. I have started my wish list. I welcome our users to share theirs.


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