Touchscreen Medicine


Mobile technology, such as tablet computers, Internet-enabled smartphones, and the applications both devices use, will change the face of HM and other physician specialties, one medical software executive says.

"Mobile technology will improve efficiency and reduce costs," Mark Cain, chief technology officer of MIM Software Inc., writes in an e-mail to The Hospitalist. "Compare the cost of an iPad to that of an exam room PC. If I was making the decision, I'd find a way to remove every exam room PC [with their keyboards, CPUs, mice, monitors, and network cables] and instead supply iPads to be carried by the staff. With a good Wi-Fi network and iPads, every room is digitally equipped as soon as the doctor walks in."

Cain has seen the paradigm shift of touchscreen technology firsthand: The FDA recently approved an application from Cleveland-based MIM to let doctors make medical diagnoses based on computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) via an application available for the iPhone and iPad. The application, the first with the FDA's imprimatur for diagnostic radiology, allows hospitalists and other physicians to access data via a secure network transfer.

The app for that is just the latest sign that the growing prevalence of touchscreen technology is changing the face of HM.

The evolution has its pitfalls, though. Patient privacy, wireless security, and the hesitancy of physicians to adopt change will likely slow the adoption of technology, but "the integration of interactive devices into a physician's daily workflow could become as commonplace in 10 years as the presence of hospitalists is today," Cain says.

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