The Apple iPad has changed the way people access the web, shop and read books. Now, it’s storming the inner sanctums of healthcare and the world will never be the same. Healthcare professionals like the iPad because it’s more portable than a laptop and gives them instant access to the information and tools they need. There are nearly 5,400 medical apps for the iPad and other healthcare agency-customised apps are in various stages of development. Dentists and physicians are using this ubiquitous device in virtually every aspect of patient care.
Use for medical students
Stanford University, UC Irvine and many other medical schools are equipping their tech-savvy students with the lightweight digital tablet. Fully loaded iPads contain the program’s syllabi, lecture slides, journal articles, virtual cadavers and medical textbooks. This innovation helps the student manage the torrent of information and save money by using digital educational materials. Hospitals are also acquiring the iPad to access cost-effective medical e-books to educate their staffs.
Children’s Hospitals are using the iPad to explain medical imaging results, such as CT scans and MRIs, with a kid-friendly question and answer format. Some are also using the device to present educational videos on surgical procedure and physical therapy to young patients and their families.
Useful for entertaining patients
Healthcare professionals are using the iPad to entertain their patients. The iPad is replacing the waiting room’s fuzzy television set and easy listening radio stations. Patients are playing web-based games, reading books, streaming movies and checking their e-mail. This therapeutic distraction is especially helpful in dental practices where anxiety prevents patients from getting necessary dental care.
An educational tool
Physicians and dentists are using the technology to educate patients and make appointments more productive. Videos and articles are used to explain numerous dental problems, medical conditions and procedures in patient-friendly terms. Surgeons are using the iPad to present post-reconstructive cosmetic images. The iPad serves as a diagnostic tool for cosmetic dentists and allows them to develop a treatment plan during chair-side consultations. They can also use the device to show common dental procedures and draw images with their fingers to further illustrate key points.
Reduced radiation exposure
Dentists are using this versatile device to take x-rays and reduce radiation exposure. The iPad creates high quality x-rays that allow the dentist to expand the images for a closer look at a problem area. This also saves time and money because the dentist doesn’t have to print or mail images. A recently-approved app enables doctors to view an x-ray and make annotations on the image. The clinician can then return the image to the electronic medical network.
A charting tool allows iPad users to check a patient’s medical history, record notes and share the data with others responsible for patient care. Healthcare practitioners can access and manage charts from home, an office or any other location with internet access. The transmitted data is encrypted to protect patient privacy and comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
The iPad helps physicians minimise medication errors and drug interactions. It also allows doctors to view EKG information and blood glucose readings within seconds of its transmission. Health professionals can access their desktop without going back to the office.
The iPad has revolutionised e-commerce and now it’s taking on patient care. As the Apple catchphrase goes, “There’s an app for that.”