Children's hospital gives iPads, FaceTime high marks

The critical care transport team at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., recently conducted a study that involved replacement of their cell phones with iPads running Apple's FaceTime video conferencing app, and gave the technology an overwhelming endorsement, according to a recent article.

According to the study's results, 75 percent of the medical staff participating said they felt that video conferencing provided a better understanding of a patient's condition than cell phone consults. In addition, 66 percent said that video conferencing assisted the determination of the correct patient disposition, and 75 percent said it should be used routinely for inter-hospital transport.

The hospital's critical care transport team moves patients either by van or helicopter from surrounding hospitals in the region. Typically, a transport team nurse arrives at a referring hospital and collects information, such as lab results and X-rays. He or she then reports back to the children's hospital via cell phone using the information to determine which department will admit the patient upon arrival.

While the calls from transport nurses can give a description of the patient, the medical staff isn't able to see them. That is why the iPads with FaceTime were brought in. Using iPads, transport team nurses were able to engage in face-to-face conversation with medical staff back at children's hospital.

"We could read their facial expressions and body language and get a sense during the conversation about what was going on," Nicholas Slamon, a specialist in pediatric critical care at the hospital, told WDDE. "The audio quality was perfect, and then it gives you this video image … that was clear, crisp, sharp images with good color."

Doctors could, for instance, ask the nurse to zoom in on a wound or the patient's face. When the nurse zoomed in on the chest, a doctor could determine the breathing pattern. The nurse also could turn the camera on a monitor so doctors could view the EKG pattern and heart rate.

Conducted from July through Sept. 2012, the study used iPads because they are durable, portable, and affordable, according to the article. And, since many of the users already have personal iPhones and iPads, which have a similar interface, little training for the study was required.

Although iPads only were used by nurses at the referring hospital, Slamon sees potential for the devices to be used in the vans or the helicopters if a patient's condition changes en route to the hospital. In Washington, D.C., ambulances have been equipped with technology that enables rapid, wireless transmissions of EKGs to both an on-call physician's wireless device and tertiary care hospitals to help deliver fast, accurate information in order to streamline in-transit patient care.

To learn more:
- read the article