Pediatric critical care transport teams at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware participated in a study using iPads to communicate about the patient’s condition prior to and during transport.  The study, which was funded by the Nemours Fund for Children’s Health, found that use of iPads provided better communication between the transport team and physicians at the hospital.

The transport team moves patients either by van or helicopter from surrounding hospitals in a three-state area.  When an area hospital requests that a patient be transported to the children’s hospital, the children’s hospital dispatches a nurse to accompany the child and communicate with a critical care physician at the children’s hospital.   The nurse uses the FaceTime app on the iPad to speak with the critical care physician and to provide the physician a video feed of the patient.  This provides an opportunity for the physician to see and hear the patient in real time and make better judgements about the patient’s care.

The study found that 75 percent of the medical command officers participating in the study felt video conferencing through FaceTime provided a better understanding of the patient’s condition and felt it should be used routinely for inter-hospital transport.  Sixty-six percent of participants felt that video conferencing assisted the determination of the correct patient disposition.  To read more about the study, click here.

Our Insight.  Your Advantage.   Healthcare providers should continually evaluate ways to incorporate the use of technology and telemedicine to improve the quality of care.  Tablet computers in particular, with their size, speed, and portability, have incredible potential to change the way healthcare is provided.  Surveys currently indicate that high percentages of physicians use tablet computers to stay updated on clinical information but fewer use tablets in the provision of care.  However, healthcare providers should expect that to change as more physicians begin using tablets in providing care.  As the study at The Hospital for Children in Delaware shows, tablets can and are being incorporated at the point of care to improve patient outcomes.  However, providers must also balance privacy concerns in incorporating new technology.  As we described here, the HHS Office for Civil Rights has launched a new initiative to provide organizations with practical tips on ways to protect ePHI on mobile devices.  While providers must work to incorporate the latest technology into the provision of care, they must also incorporate the most advanced measures to protect private health information.  Finally, HHS just released new regulations on HIPAA privacy concerns.  Our knowledgeable attorneys are continually working with clients to navigate the use of new technology to provide better, less expensive care within the bounds of the ever-changing legal landscape.