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Ta-blet or Not Ta-blet, That is the Question Commentary 

Ta-blet or Not Ta-blet, That is the Question

In a recent article in Becker’s Health IT & CIO Review, Jessica Cohen reports that according to a report done by IBM Institute for Business Value of healthcare CIOs and other executives, findings indicate that 71% of CIOs and only 59% of other executives believe that mobile solutions will have a significant impact on their organizations over the next five years.

The question this raises is, what is wrong with the 29% of CIOs who don’t recognize that mobile solutions will affect their work environments significantly? From our perspective, the inevitable change from desktop to mobile application is bound to have a profound effect on the healthcare environment in almost all circumstances, and particularly in the hospital realm.

Mobile devices such as tablets and cell phones still lack a few important capabilities to become the ubiquitous interfaces that they promise to be but once these capabilities are integrated, there will be little need for desktop computers or rolling workstations. One shortcoming with current mobile technology is high-quality voice recognition like Dragon Naturally Speaking is currently available only as a desktop interface. Once this system is successfully migrated to the mobile environment, physicians and nurses will be able to dictate reliably into a mobile device making keyboards mostly obsolete.

Consider the current capabilities of mobile devices offering many advantages over computer workstations:

  • Bar code scanning: Tablets and cell phone cameras can scan any kind of bar code for patient ID, drug ID, charge capture, equipment usage and a variety of other functions.
  • Photo Capture: The camera can capture photos of patient conditions, documents, surgery procedures and many other clinical processes.
  • Notifications: Because mobile devices are generally used by one person during a shift, they can provide real-time notification of changes in individual patient care.
  • Image Viewing: With mobile devices, it is easy to view radiology images from any location and to show patients the results of X-rays, CT scans and MRIs at their bedside.

Mobile devices also offer the ability to connect to clinical databases through the cell network, which is an important redundancy to hospital-based WIFI networks and extends the reach of clinical systems for physicians.

We see the future connecting mobile devices with medical monitors and other clinical devices for automated capture of vital signs and other information. With an ‘untethered’ approach to clinical informatics, clinicians will not be hampered with having to be wired to one location and have more capability in their pocket than on their desk.

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