Personal mobile computing increases doctors' efficiency

Internal medicine residents with iPads are on rounds with a program director James Woodruff, M.D. Credit: Dan Dry for the University of Chicago Medicine

Providing personal mobile computers to medical residents increases their efficiency, reduces delays in patient care and enhances continuity of care, according to a "research letter" in the March 12, 2012, issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In November 2010, the University of Chicago Medicine became the first hospital in the country to provide residents with on a large scale, supplying iPads to all 115 residents in internal medicine. When surveyed in 2011, more than three out of four of the residents reported that the allowed them to complete tasks quicker and freed them up to spend more time on direct and to participate in educational activities.

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

The study had two components. First was a survey that asked residents how their work was affected by the availability of . Almost 90 percent of the residents responded that they routinely used the iPads for clinical responsibilities; 78 percent felt it made them more efficient, and 68 percent reported that it averted patient care delays.

Next was a close look at data collected from the hospital's system on when the residents placed patient-care orders during the first 24 hours of each new . The researchers compared order placement from January through March 2010, before acquiring , with the same three months in 2011, after implementation.

The records confirmed the survey responses. Residents in the study submitted 5 percent more orders before 7 a.m. rounds, at which they update senior physicians about overnight admissions. They placed 8 percent more orders before handing off their responsibilities and leaving the hospital by 1 p.m., as required by duty-hour rules.

The impetus for the iPad project came from internal medicine residency program leadership. A task force of chief residents, residents and administrative staff helped coordinate implementation. One of the residents, Nancy Luo, MD, contacted the iPad's maker "to see if maybe Apple wanted to help us out," she recalled.

Late at night on Aug. 25, 2010, Luo emailed Steve Jobs, the late co-founder and CEO of Apple. At 5:21 the next morning, an Apple executive responded: "your e-mail was forwarded to me for follow up from Steve." The company's medical-market manager came to the hospital that afternoon to meet with the team.

The hospital invests about $650 on each iPad, including insurance, protective covers, straps and software. To keep patients' personal information safe, the devices are password-protected. They provide access to the hospital's wireless network but do not store records. Applications on each unit include access to medical journals and a clinical calculator. Required links include Pub Med, the hospital paging directory, journal club, a scheduling tool and a list of discount drug prices.

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Do patients pay when they leave against medical advice?

Feb 06, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- There are ways in which patients who leave the hospital against medical advice wind up paying for that decision. Being saddled with the full cost of their hospital stay, however, is not one of them.

Recommended for you

Humiliation tops list of mistreatment toward med students

4 hours ago

Each year thousands of students enroll in medical schools across the country. But just how many feel they've been disrespected, publicly humiliated, ridiculed or even harassed by their superiors at some point during their ...

Surrogate offers clues into man with 16 babies

12 hours ago

When the young Thai woman saw an online ad seeking surrogate mothers, it seemed like a life-altering deal: $10,000 to help a foreign couple that wanted a child but couldn't conceive.

Nurses go on strike in Ebola-hit Liberia

13 hours ago

Nurses at Liberia's largest hospital went on strike on Monday, demanding better pay and equipment to protect them against a deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the west African nation.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge arrives in North Korea

Aug 31, 2014

It's pretty hard to find a novel way to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by now, but two-time Grammy-winning rapper Pras Michel, a founding member of the Fugees, has done it—getting his dousing in the center ...

Cold cash just keeps washing in from ALS challenge

Aug 28, 2014

In the couple of hours it took an official from the ALS Association to return a reporter's call for comment, the group's ubiquitous "ice bucket challenge" had brought in a few million more dollars.

User comments