Imagine you’re a busy medical professional. While walking down the corridor of the hospital on your way to surgery, you pull up information on patients you plan to see that day, including their full medical histories and up-to-the-minute vital signs. With the swipe of a finger, you bring to your screen updated and centralized procedure and visit records, then you access a patient’s realtime EKG information and dip into the hospital-wide medical database through a VPN connection to your hospital’s Intranet.
Before you arrive at the operating theater, you quickly review the upcoming procedure through a multi-image interface that shows you 3-D MRI info, surgical camera views, telemetry information, and other clinical lab information as it happens.
Back in your office, you use the same device to review patient charts, including complete histories. Using a simple interface on the touchscreen, you email patients and hospital staff and update your appointments. When patients arrive for a consultation, you use your it to show them information about their condition, including animation and cutaway views that will allow them to better understand what’s happening to them. After the visit, you can update their records and order prescriptions and referrals with the tap of a finger.
This isn’t the stuff of science fiction any more. The tablet revolution is coming to the medical world, thanks to the fact that medical professionals have adopted iPads and other handheld devices in record numbers. The plethora of BYOD (bring your own devices) and mobile flexibility options in hospitals are leading software and hardware developers to embrace the medical potential of the tablet – and to make this kind of seamless wireless integration happen for real.
In this article, I’ll take a look as several hardware and software options available today to the medical community, and also look at others that are in development. This report came from the Heart Rhythm Society’s 2011 annual meeting in San Francisco.
GE Healthcare Airstrip
Airstrip is a series of custom Intranet apps that allow medical professionals to access patient data as it happens. According to Sal LoBianco, Regional Director, “Airstrip is used by major hospitals to access relevant information every day”.
Apps in the AirStrip package include Airstrip OB, for obstetrics information, Airstrip Cardiology, for real-time cardiac data, and Airstrip Patient Monitoring, for patient information, including vital signs and waveform data from medical devices such as ventilators, cardiac monitors, and arterial lines, and also medications, lab reports, and EMR (Electronic Medical Record) data from various sources.
Afstat Afib Educator
Afstat Afib is an iPad app that allows doctors and medical professionals to explain cardiac afibrillation to patients, trough a series of interactive animations, explanatory diagrams, and easy-to-understand information pages. “This is very effective in explaining exactly what’s happening to a cardiac patient,” says Alison Marcus, a consultant that worked with the AfStat Organization, a healthcare initiative dedicated to educating the public about this cardiac condition, to develop the app.
TeleViewer is a medical report viewer for the iPhone / iPad. It allows for custom reports to be reviewed and sorted directly through the device, and also can be configured for instant report delivery from EMR (Electronic Medical Record) services.
The Medicomp SAVI Wireless cardiac monitoring system consists of an easy-to-wear sensor system that relays cardiac information directly to a BlackBerry smartphone or tablet. The BlackBerry app then processes the information and relays it to the Medicomp Cardiac Monitoring System for evaluation. The combination of a small telemetry pendant tethered to a wireless device that the patient already carries makes the system more likely to be used on a daily basis.
The Stereotaxis Odyssey realtime monitoring / recording system allows for a multiple-window view into medical / surgical procedures as they happen. This includes camera views, telemetry information, and xray / MRI displays. An audio link provides for direct interaction, and the entire procedure can be recorded for training purposes.
The vendor provided a Windows 7 tablet to show the system in action, and it worked well, over a WiFi connection to the Intranet server that processed the data from various medical devices and live feeds from other vendors at the show.
The LifeWatch NiteWatch sleep monitoring system is also available for Android devices (see the above listing for the iPad version).
EncaptureMD is a comprehensive medical reporting platform that covers an array of modalities for creating custom reports. Information from Echocardiography, Vascular Nuclear Cardiology, Cardiac Catheterization, Electrophysiology, and OB/GYN procedures can be combined directly into standards-compliant medical reports, eliminating the need for dictation, and speeding up the review / billing process. According to the manufacturer, EncaptureMD is currently flash-based, and can run on Android and BlackBerry tablets. The PDF reports it outputs can also be viewed on an iPad.
Upcoming Medical Tablet Products
Abiomed, a provider of temporary assist systems that can restore heart functions in cardiac patients, is in development of an iPad monitoring system. “The ubiquity of the iPad in the medical community – everyone has one, and doctors are bring them on rounds – means that we can’t afford to not develop an app for that. We expect to have one on the market in the next six months,” says Alisha Phipps, a Marketing Specialist with the company.
Medtronic Carelink Mobile is an iPad app in development. Currently pending FDA approval, CareLink is an interactive patient information system for doctors and other medical professionals. It allows updated medical records to be viewed in a centralized database. The portable version will allow physicians to access patient information on the fly.
Hansen Medical’s robotic surgical systems allows for delicate operations to be performed with a high degree of accuracy. According to Megan Kundert, an executive with the company, the visual feedback and control systems for the robot interface “will be available for the iPad and other tablet devices in the near future”.
Philips Healthcare’s iPresent is a patient / hospital information system that will allow for instant access to thousands of patient records and hospital administration / billing documents. Development has stalled, however, according to Lois Fenimore, a Senior Manager at Philips Healthcare. “We’re currently developing it in-house, and allocating IT resources to it without a hospital-based pilot project has been difficult.”