Do you use an iPad on your rounds? Is there any benefit?

by from Medelita | Thursday, Dec 12, 2013

In theory the iPad was poised to change the lives of clinicians and patients forever by delivering mobile health solutions that allow for a dramatic increase in efficiency, the accurate flow of information, and plenty of other benefits across the entire value chain from clinician to patient, specialist, pharmacist, and so on. 

For the first two years of the device's life it looked as if Apple's ultimate wish was coming true with numbers like 45% to a staggering 70%+ of physicians surveyed indicating ownership and use of iPads during practice or in training. The tremendous popularity of the device in hospitals and private practices has even led us to retrofit our lab coats to fit the iPad or iPad mini.  You'll find front pockets large enough to store any tablet but small enough to keep the device from awkwardly bumping all over the place while you walk.

Nonetheless, a more recent study has found that "residents across all disciplines did not perceive the iPad to be clinically useful on daily work rounds, and had only slightly increased value as an educational tool." 

During the study, medical and surgical residents were given iPads and lab coats with iPad pockets and told to use them as they saw fit inside and outside of the hospital, then they were surveyed at the end of one school year. 

The study found that, "Just 18.1 percent of medical residents and 6.7 percent of surgical or OB/GYN residents said they often or always used their iPads on rounds.

The numbers increased when the iPads were used for "educational purposes." Diagnostic radiology aside, this finding clearly flies in the face of popular opinion. 

Authors of the study neglect to offer much in the way of interpretation, but our guess is that without any clear direction for how such a device fits within a broader workflow, only a small number of tech-savvy residents would even know what the best apps to use were or what the native apps could do to improve efficiency. 

What do you think?  Do you use an iPad on your rounds? If so, tell us if you think they are clinically useful.