When I was a boy, I did something ‘unwise’ one day and ended up in our local community hospital. I don’t recall much about the hospital stay (or even how I injured myself) but I vividly remember there was a chart with bright coloured tabs in a slot at the end of my bed. I was fixated with getting at the chart to see what was in it and was scolded sternly by my parents each time I tried.
Think about that: even then, my health information in those days was literally at my feet.
As technology and electronic information was introduced into the healthcare setting, it broke the natural workflow of physicians and other care providers. Health workers became ‘tethered’ to PCs, and it became increasingly difficult to actually make diagnostic decisions at the point of care.
Whereas tablet technology is not new to healthcare, the level of adoption was low for a few reasons: the form factor was generally heavy and sometimes required a stylus, boot time was long and battery life was too short to span a workday.
The promise of the iPad and subsequent similar tablet technologies has been a lightweight form factor, almost instantaneous boot time and 10 or more hours of battery life. At The Ottawa Hospital, I decided to take an aggressive posture in terms of implementing the tablet technology to our physicians, pharmacists, residents, etc. In 2010, we implemented nearly 800 of the devices and, to date, have grown to between three and four thousand devices.
Upon reflection, this disruptive technology has had a tremendous impact on how care is now delivered in our institution. We branded the mobility program ‘Back to the Bedside’ because that was what we were hoping to achieve and, in many ways, we have.
Coming into our fourth year of mobility at The Ottawa Hospital, it is remarkable to see how the technology has become the new normal. I now see physicians using their tablets to access the information they need as they stand beside a PC.
The first time I saw this, I asked the physician why he wasn’t using the PC beside him. “This is faster,” he said.
In 2012, for the first time, we had more requests for the removal of PCs from ORs and other clinical environments than we had requests for new PCs. What’s been your experience in other hospitals? What does this mean for the future? And could the era of PC domination be coming to an end?
Hear Dale speak at length about how The Ottawa Hospital introduced iPads in CIO Talk Radio’s Case Study “A Journey to a Better Patient Care Lifecycle: A Case Study in Mobility.”