As we start a new year and a new decade, many of us want to start fresh with something that can improve our lives. 2011 has the potential for some game changing technological innovations in healthcare.

In April 2010, Apple released the iPad, which has taken the world by storm. More importantly it has given healthcare professionals mobility, easy access to web-based EMR, real time data access and a more interactive method of patient education. It is not the answer for everything, but it is a great tool that is less intimidating to patients than a laptop or computer.

PTs have embraced the iPad with enthusiasm. One of the most common questions that we get at WebPT is “Can I complete my documentation on the iPad?” Approximately 20% of WebPT users have iPads in their clinics as the point of service tool of choice. There are different opinions on how much the iPad can really impact healthcare, but the iPad and other tablet computers are already becoming very practical and useful.

Here are the three main benefits of the iPad for for therapy clinical care:

1. Accessing your EMR and billing capabilities from anywhere, anytime with real-time updates to the medical record
Mobility
in our profession is key. Using a secure wireless connection within your clinic, the iPad can be used to document exercises in the gym, using the digital flowsheet just like the paper one most of us have been using, for point of service documentation of objective findings and direct interaction with the patient for outcome measurement tool completion.The iPad’s recognizable image lends to credibility, iPad is less intimidating than a larger netbook/laptop, and allows for more maintained eye contact with the patient.Real time note taking abilities for more accurate medical billing potential

2. Faster access to medical literature and research to allow for improved patient education immediately during point of service care
The iPad can be used to teach patients. Multimedia resources such as patient videos, animations, diagrams, charts, etc. can be shown onscreen to teach patients about specific diseases and conditions. Medical apps are becoming more readily available for such services as: goniometry, anatomical viewing, exercise programs, surgical procedures, and more.Games. Do you treat children? There are many games available to assist with balance, hand-eye coordination, speech, etc.

3. Affordability and portability for widespread access without requiring excessive IT support.
The iPad is small, weighs less that a pound, and is fully mobile resource. It now costs $500 or more, but prices on iPads and tablets from other companies will be dropping quickly. Extended battery life of more than 10 hours allows for use throughout a full day of treating patients.

WebPT is dedicating this month to education about the iPad and mobile technologies for physical therapists in a clinical setting. Please continue to visit our website for weekly blogs and news regarding the iPad and other tablets.

Let WebPT help you move forward in the digital age!