Patients, not providers, get tablets at Toronto hospital

University Health Network, Toronto, Canada is handing tablets to its internal medicine patients to help smooth the transition to at-home care.

The pilot study provides tablet computers to patients so they can ask questions, manage exacerbations or health concerns, and contribute their own observations to their electronic medical record, according to a report in InsideHealthZone.

Patients will link to the hospitals' longstanding EMR, Clinical Messenger, which physicians and other clinicians have used for six years, linking to it via tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. The portal provides Facebook-type pages where clinical teams discuss patient care. Under the pilot program, patients will join the discussion to report their symptoms and problems, such as difficulty climbing stairs or taking medications. Patients already have been logging into the system through a kiosk on the internal medicine unit.

"You can link everybody (health-care practitioners) up together in communication and then you can open up a window for the patient," Dante Morra, medical director for innovation in complex care at UHN tells InsideHealthZone.

The hospital also will load the tablets with a host of important patient information, such as discharge plans, upcoming medical tests or appointments, as well as the names and pictures of all the members of their care teams.

The tablets also will be enabled for Skype, so patients can talk with family members and loved ones on the devices.

It's certainly the right move, with Canadians adopting mobile technology at faster-than-average rates, according to a recent mobile technology study by research firm TNS Canada. More than 7% of Canadians have tablets, compared to 5% in the rest of North America, on average. And 31% of those polled say they plan to buy a tablet in the coming year.

"Canadians are leaders when it comes to adapting latest technologies," Ron Caughlin, VP, told Canada.com. "As part of this, we're seeing a real mind shift. It's no longer what my technology does; it's what I can do with my technology."

To learn more:
- read InsideHealthZone's story.
- Check out TNS Canada's mobile survey.

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