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Are Patient Education Apps for Tablets a Potential Quick Win?

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Apps that enable caregivers to smoothly integrate the presentation of much fuller and customized patient education material at the point of care may be a relatively quick way to help to improve patient care and the patient experience.

I enjoy the rare technology in the hospital-world that can start producing results relatively quickly.  An example in my experience was when the technology became ready to connect email to smartphones.  While the set of technologies that make us “always-connected” are not always everyone’s favorite innovations, this move had a relatively quick and essentially positive impact.  There emerged products to make it happen that weren’t extremely costly or too complex to implement and secure, and end users saw the benefits of being able to get away from their desks without getting too behind on their email pretty quickly.  Probably most importantly, the benefits combined with the intuitive nature of the implementations helped everyone using these devices get over the learning curve.

Recently, I’ve seen some applications for tablets that provide clinicians the ability to quickly and easily provide what is essentially an instant, personalized, interactive, multi-media patient education presentation.  Just by way of example, here are a couple app reviews:  the Human Atlas and the 3D Brain.  These types of applications might be "quick wins" compared to some other endeavors, as long as the infrastructure platform is there to build upon and the individual implementations are done in a manner that addresses the types of concerns held by IT, security, and compliance experts.

Patient education is very important in patient care, and people digest material and learn in all different ways.  I recently read that 29% of healthcare administrators in a 2009 survey define the patient experience as “an orchestrated set of activities that is meaningfully customized for each patient.”  Apps that enable the presentation of patient education material in a much fuller and customized way could be important in improving patient care and the patient experience.  If these types of apps can bring improvement while fitting into the workflow at the point of care, they might be an innovation to look towards for a relatively quick win for our patients and our teams.