By Richard G. Stefanacci, DO, MGH, MBA, AGSF, CMD
The most positive news to impact healthcare in quite some time may not have been the words of the President in his State of the Union address but rather the words coming out of Silicon Valley. Yesterday, Jan 27, Apple unveiled its latest product, the iPad. This device may actually have the ability to improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs.
With some $21 billion set aside in the Stimulus Package to provide funds to physicians and hospitals that use electronic health records (EHRs), part of these funds may be used to purchase the new Apple iPad. Already the iPad will enjoy apps that are currently available to the iPhone/iPod Touch and more are in the works. The Mayo Clinic recently announced production of several healthcare apps.
Major electronic health record systems like Epic have already developed electronic health record applications for the smaller devices. The increased screen and key board size of the iPad will make these systems much easier to use.
One of the greatest advantages of the iPad over the use of PC-based EHRs is that it fits better in the work flow of physicians that patients are already comfortable with. One of the largest criticisms by physicians and patients, including my own, is that the use of the PC appears to make the office visit less personal. A tablet device like the iPad could eliminate that distances and actually improve the link between physicians and their patients.
Apple’s iPad improvements could be the link between physicians and their patients combined with the benefits in efficiency through the use of EHRs. The iPad could do what Washington has long promised but has yet to be able to do – improve patient care and reduce the cost of healthcare.
As a practicing geriatrician who has utilized EHRs for more than a decade, this is long welcome positive news.
Dr. Richard Stefanacci, Director of the Institute for Geriatric Studies at University of the Sciences. As an internist/geriatrician, Dr. Stefanacci has a longstanding interest and commitment to geriatric health, particularly the frail elderly and long-term care.