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Study: Mobile Devices Increase Residents’ Efficiency

March 13, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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The topic of mobile devices in healthcare has been widely disseminated over the past few years, with various studies from research institutions tackling the issue. Another study, from researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine, says personal mobile computers increases the efficiencies of medical residents by reducing delays in patient care and enhancing continuity of care. The results from the study appeared “research letter” in a issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In November 2010, the University of Chicago Medicine provided iPads to all 115 residents in internal medicine.When surveyed in 2011, more than 75 percent of the residents reported that the portable computers allowed them to complete tasks quicker and freed them up to spend more time on direct patient care and to participate in educational activities. 

"Residents face a vast and increasing workload packed into tightly regulated hours," Bhakti Patel, MD, the study’s author and pulmonary critical care fellow at the University of Chicago Medicine said in a statement. "They spend much of their time completing documentation and updating patient charts. This study indicates that personal mobile computers can streamline that process."

The study included a survey that asked residents how their work was affected by the availability of mobile computers. Almost 90 percent of the residents responded that they routinely used the iPads for clinical responsibilities; 78 percent felt it made them more efficient, and 68 percent reported that it averted patient care delays.

It also looked at data collected from the hospital's EMR system on when the residents placed patient-care orders during the first 24 hours of each new hospital admission. The researchers compared order placement from January through March 2010, before acquiring iPads, with the same three months in 2011, after implementation. Residents in the study submitted five percent more orders before 7 a.m. rounds, at which they update senior physicians about overnight admissions. They placed eight percent more orders before handing off their responsibilities and leaving the hospital by 1 p.m., as required by duty-hour rules.

The hospital says it invested $650 on each iPad, which included insurance, protective covers, straps and software. The devices are password-protected and provide access to the hospital's wireless network but do not store records.

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