Can iPads Make Docs More Efficient? There Are Many Views

As some may recall, I wrote a piece a couple of months ago about a disastrous iPad implementation at a Seattle hospital. The doctors all gave back their tablet, saying that they couldn’t work with it, and the hospital ended up implementing a thin client solution.

Here’s an interesting follow-up, in which the iPad came out looking great.

A new study published this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that a group of internal medicine students actually did become more efficient by slinging iPads. Researchers with the journal surveyed 115 internal medicine residents affiliated with the University of Chicago before and after giving them iPads to access EMRs, the hospital paging system and medical publications,  Reuters reports. Ninety-five percent of  students said the set-up improved their efficiency.

How did the hospital make the iPad set up work?  According to a piece in, U of C took great care to help make the iPad integrate well, including the following:

User support

— Used Citrix to grant access the hospital’s Epic system

— Documented carefully how Epic works with Citrix, including materials showing residents how to find local printers

— Spelled out some advantages of an iPad/Epic marriage, including addressing patient issues while in conference the capacity to discharge patients on rounds


— Explained how to address the problem if the resident’s iPad is stolen, including a policy that residents couldn’t store patient data on the iPad

Obviously, one prominent success and one prominent failure aren’t going to settle the issue of whether iPads are the future of medicine.   And while Android isn’t getting a lot of talk  in medical circles, I wouldn’t count out Android apps by a long shot. Plus, I’m sure John would passionately argue for a native iPad EHR app versus a Citrix connection.

Still, it’s interesting to see a case study in which doctors are neither frustrated nor burnt out by iPad use. I’m not sure if conditions can be replicated — after all, interns are young, eager and more prone to be tech-friendly — but it’s worth considering all the same.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

1 Comment

  • Holy cow are we still talking about desktop virtualization with Citrix on iPads? How many times do you have to pinch and zoom to understand this is a dumb idea? iPads are a new form factor and require a new type of interface. This only shows how desperate clinicians are to use their mobile devices. Citrix is a bandaid. The cure will come with native iOS software that integrates on the back end.

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