More doctors using smart phones, tablets to aid patient care
By Jeanne Millsap For the Herald-News October 16, 2012 11:14AM
Physicians say technology is making medical care safer and faster. | File photo
Health and Medical apps at a glance
Among the best health and medical apps, according to knowyourapps.com, are:
Vision Test. Said to allow you to test the quality of your vision through a series of tests.
In Case of Emergency. App stores all of your emergency contacts in one place for easy access.
Assistance. A first-aid reference app.
Speed Bones MD. A game of learning that teaches where all your bones are.
Endomondo Sports Tracker. To track your fitness, get pep talks and instant feedback and start competitive challenges with your friends.
South Beach Diet. Teaches about “good” and “bad” carbs, tips on healthy living, recipes.
Absolute Fitness. Input information on physical status, what you eat and fitness goals, and the app claims to provide detailed analysis of how much you should be consuming to achieve your goals.
My Health Coach: Manage your Weight. Simple visuals and cheerful pings help you with your weight goals.
Updated: November 18, 2012 6:45AM
If you see your doctor furiously thumbing on a smart phone during your office visit, don’t get too upset.
Rather than playing “Angry Birds,” the doctor is probably pulling up your test results or checking medication dosage information. It’s the latest in what physicians say is making medical care safer and faster.
Using mobile devices such as iPads and smart phones in health care situations can be lifesaving, too.
Dr. Dennis Killian, president of the medical staff at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center and cardiologist at Heartland Cardiovascular Center, gives an example of paramedics responding to an emergency heart attack call. Right at that patient’s home, Killian said, the paramedic can do a quick EKG and digitally send the results to the doctor on call, who can then give the paramedic medical instructions.
“In situations such as this one,” Killian said, “a life can be saved. It’s important to begin treatment as soon as possible.”
According to research done this year by Manhattan Research, a health care market research firm, devices such as tablet computers and smart phones are being adopted quickly by doctors who use them in the hospital, at their clinics and at home.
The number of doctors using them for professional purposes almost doubled from 2011 to 2012, the study reported, reaching 62 percent this year. Another report issued by Jackson & Coker said 80 percent of doctors are now using smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices at work. Tablets, mostly iPads, are now mainstream.
“I use these things,” Killian said. “I carry my iPad to work with me every day.”
Apps available for doctors include those with databases of current research studies, information about prescription medications, those that perform medical calculations, Spanish translators and those that determine a patient’s eligibility for a catheterization.
Doctors can use their tablets to keep up on drug shortages and to review neurovascular anatomy and muscle innervation pathways. There are thousands of apps designed specifically for medical use.
Prescription drug apps are especially common and can give doctors information on dosing recommendations, drug interactions, contraindications and precautions, adverse reactions, prices, photos of medications and pharmacology properties of particular drugs.
Mobile devices can also give doctors instant information on medical histories of patients. That’s a huge advantage, Killian said.
“So many records are going electronic,” he said, “and it’s helping us provide better quality care.”
Killian said he can easily pull up his office notes when a patient is admitted to the hospital. He can also pull up records of tests, such as echocardiograms, and other records from St. Joseph, Silver Cross Hospital and Morris Hospital. In the past, he said, certain records and results had to be physically driven from a hospital to an office or vice-versa. Now the transfer of patient information is often instantaneous.
Killian said doctors still need to be sure they are communicating well and maintaining good eye contact with patients, however, even if they have most of what they need on a device in front of them.