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Texting or looking up clinical info

December 22, 2010

SarahBethRN brings up a serious complication with using your smartphone as a medical reference tool in clinical care.  When a clinician pulls out their iPhone it’s difficult to know if they are checking one of the thousands of medical apps for some reference material or texting their buddy about going out after call.  I have already heard of one story where residents at one hospital were banned from using their smartphones during rounds because of the perception they were texting or checking email.  Although a generation gap exists within the hospital hierarchy between a younger, more technologically savvy generation and more senior clinicians, the bigger issue is the patient’s perception.  So, we have this amazing tool that puts hundreds of volumes of medical reference at our fingertips, but we can’t use it because patients can’t tell whether we are paying attention to them or checking to see who won the big game.  I don’t see any simple solution to this problem other than announcing to the patient and anyone within earshot that you are now using your iPhone to look up important clinical information (not texting your BFF).  This very phenomenon is why I believe tablet/slate devices like the iPad will quickly be adopted as clinical tools.  Their form factor lends itself to being interpreted as a clinical tool (much more so than a smartphone), not to mention the larger screen makes it more useful for accessing reference material as well as interacting with EMRs and use as a patient education tool.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mark Porter permalink
    December 23, 2010 3:12 pm

    I now operate under these two basic principles when I visit with a doc:
    1) Your EHR has done nothing to address my health issue.
    2) Normal regimen for a chronic disease: VISIT, month1, month2, VISIT, month3, VISIT, month4, month5, month6, VISIT, month7….

    Based on these principles, I try my best to lead my docs down this path for my visits:
    Conversational dialogue
    Better interpretations of test results that acknowledge both the need for action AND the need for peace of mind
    Less or no typing

    I guess I’d now add a new one: Put down your device.

    Hope you don’t mind my frank response. It’s tough being a patient!

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