HealthIT: Mobile Is Here to Stay

Below is the first in a series of guest blogs from Dr. Peter J. Shaw, chief medical officer at QPharma Inc. Watch for additional posts from Dr. Shaw in the coming months.

Everywhere you go you see people interacting with others using some kind of personal electronic technology, even to the point where we avoid personal verbal conversation and the written word is long neglected as a means of communication. The medical profession, albeit lagging a bit behind other professions, is starting to rely on electronic technology as a means of communicating with patients and other health care professionals (HCPs).

The way doctors and other HCPs record information regarding their patients and the way that they gather information for research purposes has changed dramatically over the past few years. No longer do doctors rely on having physical medical notes and reference books/materials. Everything they need can be carried on a tablet/touch screen PC or in many cases on their PDA.

Recent research has shown that the majority of doctors have smartphones both for personal and professional uses. Even the older generation of doctors is using modern technology but almost every doctor under 35 has a mobile device on their person at all times. Medical schools are now issuing new medical students with tablets as the main platform for information delivery during their time at medical school. HCPs are using these devices for instant research and as a way of making sure all appropriate labs and investigations are done.

When you go to see your doctor, the chances are that he/she will have your medical records on some kind of tablet device, will make a record of your consultation real-time and may well send your prescription directly to the local pharmacy from the device. As we move into the era of a paperless society and electronic medical records the access to information at our fingertips is the way we practice medicine going to change for the good? There is talk that the next generation of mobile devices will mean that doctors will be able to make virtual house calls.

Instant access to lab results, x-rays, scans, etc., and the ability to prescribe electronically all though one device will undoubtedly change the way that HCPs interact with their patients. In order to make sure the focus remains on the patient and not the device the development of technology needs to understand how HCPs interact with their patients and where technology can enhance the interaction.

The takeaway form this is that, like it or not, the era of the PDA/tablet is here to stay. We need to embrace the technology and use it to our advantage, while making changes and adapting what is available to best address our needs. The end point is always to improve the way we interact with our patients and make our lives easier and more productive. In the next blog we will look at ways the advent of electronic medical records will make doctors' and patients' lives better.

What questions do you have about the future of mobile devices in healthcare?

Dr. Peter J. Shaw is chief medical officer at QPharma Inc. He has 25 years of experience in clinical medicine in a variety of specialties, 20 years’ experience in product launches and pharmaceutical sales training and assessment, and 10 years’ experience in post-graduate education.