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VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System

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New iPads Will Help Patient Care

Dr. Charles Atwood can now access patient information anywhere with his new iPad.

Dr. Charles Atwood can now access patient information anywhere with his new iPad.

By Keith Gottschalk
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

VA Pittsburgh is riding the wave of the future, issuing iPads to care-givers to streamline and improve access to patient information.

Dr. Charles W. Atwood, a pulmonary physician, who serves as chairman of the clinical informatics committee and project leader for the iPad initiative, is excited about the possibilities.

"These iPads will allow our clinicians to access patient records remotely and securely through wireless connections," said Atwood. "This is a big leap in mobility from using laptops. The iPads come with programs that allow clinicians to set their calendars on the go and access their mail and messages at the hospital, home or en route."

Atwood said VA Pittsburgh received 600 iPads in mid-June. VA Pittsburgh is one of the first VA healthcare systems in the nation to receive fully loaded iPads issued as part of the new VA Mobile Health Provider Pilot Program. Full time doctors or doctors with substantial part-time hours received the iPad, along with nurse practitioners, dietitians, nurse managers, speech pathologists and social workers.

Most care-givers received iPad minis, but radiologists, who need to look at images, use iPad 4s, which have larger screens.

The program will enable health care teams to improve patient care by providing:

  • Convenient access to real-time clinical information;
  • Mobile access to patient information throughout the medical center;
  • Easy access to medical tools at work, home, and on the go;
  • Secure communication between patients and providers; and
  • Improved access to patient-generated data.

The iPads come with applications developed by and for VA clinicians. Over time, more apps will be made available in the VA App Store. Atwood said that eventually clinicians will be able to hold telehealth meetings with patients over the iPad and use voice recognition software for keeping patient notes.

"Everyone in health care informatics has an interest in this because we know that mobile computing is the wave of the future – the ability to have patient information readily available wherever you are," said Atwood. "This will be VA first of many forays into mobile computing as we see how this technology will help providers to their jobs. We believe it will bring them in closer cooperation with their patients."

If the program proves to be successful, the program expands to other VA sites over the next 18 to 24 months. For more information about VA Mobile Health Provider Program visit: http://mobilehealth.va.gov/providers/

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