Tablet PCs aim to improve patient care for Canadian docs

A lightweight tech device may be helping Canadian doctors to lighten their everincreasing workload.

Known as Tablet PCs, they’re being used in Canadian medical practices in the hopes of providingphysicians with increased efficiency and improved patient care.

Portable and lightweight, Tablet PCs do not have keyboards likenotebook computers, according to Scott Ball, business developmentmanager, MotionComputing Inc.

Users have the options of using a touch screen, to handwriteusing a pen-like device (stylus), or to dock the PC onto akeyboard, said Ball.

He added the portability of these devices makes them ideal forhealthcare providers.

“We focus on areas of the healthcare market that requiremobility…the true mobility aspect of being able to walk aroundwith a device,” said Ball.

Ball said Motion Computing provides the devices for about 15hospitals in Canada, while in the U.S. there is over 45,000healthcare workers using Tablet PCs in about 2,000 facilities.

He said the largest barriers to installing more Tablet PCs in Canadian hospitals and clinics are the lack ofwireless infrastructure and compatible software applications.

“It’s very typical for hospitals to put the cart before thehorse and want to look at the very neat tools like a Tablet, butwhen you ask them ‘Do you have a wireless infrastructureinstalled?’ the answer is typically, ‘I think that is budgeted fornext year,'” said Ball.

He said Tablet PCs help make smaller practices operate smoother,and noted the doctors there typically work long hours and oftenspend time on weekends refilling prescriptions.

“Anything that can improve their efficiency is muchappreciated.”

Dr. Ken Florence has a private practice in Toronto, and said heuses a Tablet PC in his clinic because he likes the addedefficiency it provides.

“I don’t have to worry about illegible handwriting, I can makedecent notes and see more people without having to write…if youcompare it to the notes I used to have years ago they contain a lotmore information,” said Florence.

Florence noted that while there are some problems with theTablet PC, they are not that different from problems someone wouldhave using a regular PC.

“Just like any computer you may have at home, sometimes itcrashes, sometimes it needs to be rebooted, and sometimes thenetwork breaks down…little things like that.

“Florence said now that he is using a Tablet PC he “couldn’tlive without it.”

“I love it, I could never go back.  In fact, I had myTablet stolen a couple weeks ago and the few days it took me toreplace it and get the software back on I was going crazy,” hesaid. “It brought back nightmares of the old days.”

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