Clinical Pathology Laboratories Should Prepare for the iPad Era!
It’s All About “Apps” as Physicians Rush to Adopt iPads for Use in Clinical Settings
Evidence is building that iPads are a hit with physicians. Experts are astonished at the rate at which physicians are adopting iPads for their daily clinical practice. That means every clinical laboratory and anatomic pathology group in the United States will need a strategy on how to allow physicians to use their iPads to order medical laboratory tests and view lab results.
One secret as to how clinical laboratories can serve physicians using iPads is to offer them an “app.” Physicians are more intrigued with the apps that can run on the iPad than they are with the hardware itself, according to a recent survey. Even a growing number of hospitals are adopting iPads for use in clinical settings.
Of course, iPad use by clinicians presents a challenge for the IT personnel charged with providing ingress and egress to protected patient records, since they must protect patient data secure and keep the systems fully compliant with HIPAA.
Integration of Healthcare Informatics Will Need Response by Medical Laboratories
In October of last year, about 950 members of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) participated in an online webinar. The event was co-sponsored by HIMSS and BoxTone, a global Mobile Service Management (MSM) Software and Services provider based in Columbia, Maryland. During the webinar, participants were surveyed on their present or future plans to implement iPads for the physicians. The results, published in a BoxTone press release, speak for themselves.
“Nearly 70% of the attendees were from hospitals or healthcare organizations with more than 1,500 employees, and 15% of attendees were executive-level employees or physicians.
“Key findings of the survey include:
- “More than 25% of the HIMSS respondents plan to deploy the iPad and other iO/S devices immediately. That number swells to 70% of respondents planning to deploy the devices within the next year!
- “One-third identified point-of-care applications—including clinical laboratory test order visualization, access to lab test results, clinical decision support, and medical image viewing applications—as top priorities, while 18% identified general administration as a top priority, including billing, coding, and claims applications.
- “When provided with a choice of options for potential iPad IT management challenges, nearly 75% identified secure configuration and deployment as the number one challenge and 53% identified mobile application and deployment as a key challenge.”
“Since its launch [last] year, the iPad is redefining how organizations leverage mobile technology in the enterprise, and the healthcare community is leading this paradigm shift,” said Alan Snyder, CEO, BoxTone. “As these devices are used more frequently at the point of care, IT must ensure data security and privacy, as well as superior remote connectivity.”
These devices are breaking down the silos of “who holds the data” and “how you can get into it.” iPads and similar mobile devices will themselves be querying various data sources. Clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups will need to enable those data sources so that the iPads used by physicians can readily access the desired data.
iPads Find Practical Use in Emergency Departments and at the Point of Care
In Chicago, from the emergency department (ED) to ICU, physicians are using the iPad to access patient records, order tests and review results while treating patients. They’re even using the iPads to help explain to patients what’s going on in their bodies.
According to an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, “the University of Chicago Medical Center plans to provide iPads to all of its internal medicine residents, expanding on a pilot program launched earlier this year. Similarly, Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood has given iPads to all of its orthopedic residents as part of a pilot program.
“It went through here like wildfire,” said Richard Watson, M.D., an emergency room physician at MetroSouth in Blue Island, Illinois. He was telling the Chicago Sun-Times what took place once physicians learned they could access their patient’s records using iPads. “At least half of our staff here in the emergency room has their own iPad and carries it and uses it.”
“With this [iPad], I’m back to the convenience of being in the patient’s room, talking to them and plugging in my orders right then and there,” said Eric Nussbaum, M.D., MetroSouth’s emergency room Chief, in the Sun-Times article.
If the iPad adoption curve continues to build—other mobile devices will surely follow—then every clinical laboratory and anatomic pathology group will need both a strategy and a suite of apps to support the physicians’ use of iPads to place medical laboratory test orders and view laboratory test data in real time and on demand.
Further, the surprising rate of adoption by physicians of the iPad and similar mobile devices is a development that surprised most experts. Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists should stay alert to other information technology breakthroughs which are quickly picked up by physicians and hospitals and put to work in clinical settings.