Giving Docs iPads Might Boost Patient Care

Tablet computers improved efficiency, cut delays in clinical duties among medical residents in study

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MONDAY, March 12, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Providing medical residents with personal mobile computers appears to boost efficiency, reduce delays in patient care and improve continuity of care, a new study shows.

Outlined in a research letter in the March 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, the report included 115 residents at the University of Chicago Medicine who were given iPads in November 2010 and surveyed in 2011 about the impact of the devices.

Nearly 90 percent of the residents said they routinely used the devices for clinical duties, 78 percent said it made them feel more efficient, and 68 percent said it prevented delays in patient care.

The investigators then examined data from the hospital's electronic medical record system to determine when the residents placed patient-care orders during the first 24 hours of each new hospital admission.

After they received the iPads, the residents submitted 5 percent more orders before 7 a.m. rounds -- when they update senior doctors about overnight admissions -- and 8 percent more orders before they ended their shift at 1 p.m., as required by duty-hour rules.

"Residents face a vast and increasing workload packed into tightly regulated hours," study first author Dr. Bhakti Patel, a pulmonary critical care fellow, said in a University of Chicago Medicine news release. "They spend much of their time completing documentation and updating patient charts. This study indicates that personal mobile computers can streamline that process."

The iPads used in the study provide residents with access to the hospital's wireless network but do not store records. The devices are password-protected, to keep patients' personal information safe.

"We were encouraged to see that this technology could enhance patient care in the setting of restricted resident duty hours," Dr. Christopher Chapman, current chief resident of the internal medicine residency program at the University of Chicago Medicine, said in the news release.

More information

Learn more about electronic health records from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCE: University of Chicago Medicine, news release, March 12, 2012


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