Study: iPad-based tool shows promise for trauma care

Surgeons from Vancouver, British Columbia have developed an iPad app that accurately collects and analyzes trauma care data and provides effective injury surveillance in various healthcare settings, according to a study published in the January issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

As the study reports, 90 percent of global trauma deaths occur in under-resourced or remote environments, with little injury surveillance. To help address the problem, Canadian surgeons developed the iPad app, called the electronic Trauma Health Record (eTHR), to be used by frontline clinicians to inform trauma care and acquire injury surveillance data for injury control. 

"The eTHR has potential to be used as an electronic medical record, guiding clinical care while providing data for injury surveillance, without significantly hindering hospital workflow in various healthcare settings," concludes the study, which included qualitative testing with 22 trauma clinicians, including Vancouver General Hospital, Whitehorse General Hospital, British Columbia Mobile Medical Unit and Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.

Surgeons at South Africa's Groote Schuur decided to use the iPad mini instead of the full-sized iPad because it fit into their lab coat pockets and reduced the risk of theft, a separate article reports. The iPad patient record is now standard practice at Groote Schuur, where it has been expanded to include an operations record on which procedures patients receive, and this month it is being expanded to include a surgical outcomes record.

"Clinician-driven registry data collection proved to be feasible, with some limitations, in a busy South African trauma center," finds the study results. "In pilot testing at a level I trauma center in Cape Town, use of eTHR as a clinical tool allowed for creation of a real-time, self-populating trauma database. Usability assessments with traumatologists in various settings revealed the need for unique eTHR adaptations according to environments of intended use. In all settings, eTHR was found to be user-friendly and have ready appeal for frontline clinicians."

In addition, the eTHR study won the first-place award for clinical research at the 2013 American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma meeting held in November.

In July, the Journal of Mobile Technology in Medicine published an article that found tablet computers to be remarkably versatile and useful devices with vast potential for applications in various aspects of surgery. These mobile devices can be used in surgical consultations, operating theaters, post-operative care and surgical education, among other applications.

To learn more:
- read the article
- read the study