Doctor's now using tablet computers instead of conventional paper records
The most up-to-date medical findings, radiological images or blood values can all be accessed at the touch of a finger. Diagnoses can also be explained to patients directly at bedside by showing them the visual results of imaging procedures. By simplifying such work processes, tablet computers are freeing up more time for doctors to spend more time to discuss with their patients. Researchers at the Department of Neurology of the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin have been examining how mobile tablets can be used to access electronic patient records. The results of their study have now been published in the science magazine Journal of Neurology*.
In hospitals, time is a scarce and extremely valuable resource. Neurology in particular is an extensively networked discipline, highly dependent on complex diagnostic procedures and time-consuming data processing operations. In the context of a research project carried out at the Department of Neurology of the Charité, physicians who conduct regular ward rounds were instructed on how to access and handle electronic patient records on tablet computers. The aim of the study was to evaluate the potential benefits of mobile records in terms of improving workflow. The study consisted of a survey of the pre and post processing times required during doctors' rounds, as well as the duration of each visit. The time spent by each physician at each patient's bedside and the time required to reference medical data access were also measured.
An assessment of the collected data shows that medical examination findings can be more quickly accessed via the tablets. Compared with paper documents, on average physicians save 40 seconds when accessing medical findings via electronic patient records. This makes it possible for the physician to effectively spend more time with each individual patient. Instead of the four minutes spent for each conventional visit; 'mobile visits' can extend each visit by an additional 1.5 minutes on average. The researchers have also determined that pre and post processing times can be shortened by up to 20 minutes for each round of visits, time that can now be spent more usefully in direct interaction discussions with patients.
One further advantage of keeping treatment data available on mobile terminals: doctors can simultaneously access and update the same files, laboratory results or other findings from various locations throughout the hospital. "The documents are always accessible no matter where we happen to be", explains Prof. Dr. Stephan Brandt, Assistant Director of the Department of Neurology of the Charité with Experimental Neurology. "Tablets also make it possible for us to show patients real CT images, other images or results and to discuss these findings directly at bedside." The pilot project conducted at the Department of Neurology demonstrates how especially those processes associated with electronically stored data and images can be simplified and qualitatively improved. Other medical disciplines could also profit from mobile data access. Throughout the entire process, particular attention is given to ensuring the confidentiality of sensitive patient data. Data protections authorities and ethics committees have examined the project and have endorsed the study. The Deutsche Telekom AG provided support for the study in its capacity as a industry sector partner.
*Robert Fleischmann, Julian Duhm, Hagen Hupperts, Stephan A. Brandt. Tablet computers with mobile electronic medical records enhance clinical routine and promote bedside time: a controlled prospective crossover study. Journal of Neurology, Dez. 2014. doi: 10.1007/s00415-014-7581-7
Prof. Dr. Stephan A. Brandt
Assistant Director of Department of Neurology of the Charité with Experimental Neurology
Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
t: +49 30 450 560 111
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