iPad use in the clinic

We’ve all seen the commercials: the catchy music paired with a montage of all the awesome things you can do with an iPad. The iPad—and Apple, in general—is all about the “wow,” the cool factor. So why wouldn’t rehab therapists use it in their clinic? We sat down with two occupational therapy clinics and asked them to share their experiences using iPads in their practice. 

Nick Roselli, OTR/L, CHT, of Nick Roselli Occupational Therapy in New York initially purchased laptops for his multiclinic practice. However, when he lost internet connectivity one day, Nick decided to use his iPad (with 3G internet connection) for that day’s patient visits and documentation. “I saw it was very user-friendly, and I could use it on the go as I visited my other clinics,” said Nick. In the case with Dynamic Rehab in Arizona, Tania Shearon, OTR/L, CHT, brought in her own iPad to use within the clinic, knowing that it would expedite her EMR documentation. “The iPad works awesome with my daily notes...much quicker,” Tania said. 

In general, Tania says the iPad is portable, fast, and easy. Nick listed similar qualities when speaking about the iPad in his clinics, emphasizing the user-friendly aspect and the ability to create quick notes. While Nick admits he’d rather use his laptop, especially for notes loading greater amounts of data, he says the iPad is just so much more mobile. The zoom feature on iPads is also a plus, too.

Beyond mobility and ease of use, Tania emphasized the cool factor. “Patients think it’s really cool,” Tania noted. She also said the iPad allows her to get closer to and be more interactive with her patients.

Tania and Nick are both occupational therapists, so it’s only natural they both mentioned iPad hardware. Nick noted he uses a wireless keyboard with his iPad; Tania does, too, specifying that it’s the metal desktop wireless keyboard with bluetooth connectivity. “It’s the best keyboard I’ve ever typed on,” she said. She continued, recommending an iPad stand and saying she loves that there’s no mouse needed. The iPad is “great for both hands.”

As with anything, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. So what are the downsides of the iPad? For both Nick and Tania, they agreed that internet connectivity can greatly influence load times and application usability. If you’re loading a lot of data, say with an initial exam, poor WiFi signal strength will greatly influence load times. Thus, when using your iPad, be aware of Internet connectivity strength.

For Nick, he explained that copy and pasting within his daily notes can be a little tricky with the touchscreen. And Tania explained that because she has a first generation iPad, she’s lacking printing capabilities. She recommends therapists purchase a later generation iPad that can connect to printers either through wireless connections. Also, the later generation iPads have photo and video capabilities, which Tania notes would come in handy.

In summary, mobility, speed, and usability are key for rehab therapists. If you document digitally, you may want to consider an iPad for your clinic. As Tania explains, the iPad is “so useful to me I would never not use it...I love using it at work.” Nick, on the other hand, puts more emphasis on mobility. It can be an iPad; it can be a laptop. Simply find something that can help you document better, faster, and more quickly while on the go. Besides looking like a cool, trailblazing techie to your patients, you’ll most likely achieve more while treating them.

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