Tablet pilot streamlines patient data input

A recent successful pilot project shows how hospitals can begin extending tablets outside their walls.

Home health agency Great Lakes Caring completed two 24-clinician test projects this summer that showed home health clinicians, physical therapists and others find tablets a top professional tool for improving documentation and coordination of care, CEO William Deary tells FierceMobileHealthcare.

The pilots were so successful, the agency just spent $400,000 to purchase 800 Android tablets ($500 each) for all of its field staff, including nurses and therapists, as well as home health aides, social workers and chaplains.

"They have been extraordinarily well received," Deary says. "They're easier to read, more user-friendly in terms of navigation, with a bigger screen, etc. They're just easier on the eye" than the smaller [personal digital assistants] staff have used for years. The screens are six to eight times larger than the PDA screens, and the form factors require less scrolling, fewer page flips, and allow clinicians to accomplish more on a single screen, he adds.

One particular kudo from clinicians: They can look at data onscreen at the same time they are inputting patient data. On the PDAs, clinicians had to use separate screens for data viewing and data input, requiring them to "switch back and forth quite a bit," Deary notes.

Because the tablets don't have a phone function, clinicians had to be issued a separate cell phone for phone calls, Deary notes. It turned out to be a bonus in disguise, however, as now clinicians can talk to physicians on their phones and look up needed information on the tablet at the same time.

The agency did have to work with its vendor, HomeCare HomeBase, Dallas, to develop the Android version of their PointCare Manager software. HCHB officials indicate the new version now is enabled for virtually all Android devices, from smartphones to tablets.

To learn more:
- get more details on the HomeCare HomeBase move to Android

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