The next time you have an appointment with your physician or are hospitalized, pay close attention to the device that doctors carry around with them as they visit patients. A stalwart of older medical facilities - the clipboard and attached paper files - is slowly being replaced by electronic tablets, which should streamline patient care but may place HIPAA compliance into question.
Manhattan Research's "Taking The Pulse U.S. 2012" found that the adoption rate of tablets has doubled since 2011, with more than half of physicians - 62 percent - reporting that they use these devices regularly. Although health IT has expanded significantly in recent years as a result of government incentives, the expansion of tablets has outpaced many other similar systems, including the approximately 50 percent adoption rate of electronic medical records.
"Physicians are evolving in ways we expected - only faster," Manhattan Research vice president Monique Levy told Healthcare IT News. "The skyrocketing adoption rates of tablets alone, especially iPads, means healthcare stakeholders should revisit many of their assumptions about reaching and engaging."
As long as physicians remain engaged with patients during face-to-face meetings and do not become distracted by devices that display electronic health information, patients should be able to benefit from this arrangement. There is also the issue of mobile security, which could become compromised if a doctor misplaces a tablet or prying eyes view electronic files without the patient's permission. Some experts have even expressed concern that touch screens could facilitate the spread of infection if doctors do not disinfect properly.
Doctors will eventually perfect the ways in which they use mobile tablets, while hospitals simultaneously refine best practices. Some facilities may even request the assistance of a healthcare IT consulting service, whose experience will help dictate the direction in which providers go as they seek mobile solutions.