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Restoring clinicians’ vision of patient information at the point of care

17 September 2013 | Dr. Simon Kos, Health Industry Manager for Microsoft Australia

Imagine losing your eyesight so slowly that you forget what it’s like to see clearly. This is the disabling condition of age-related cataract disease. The lens degenerates, becoming increasingly opaque over time, and patients don’t even realize how much was missing—or how disabling their loss of vision was—until after they’ve had cataract-removal surgery. With their vision restored, they’re amazed at how independently productive they can be again.

This is a metaphor that comes to mind when I think of clinicians’ ability to have a clear vision of patient information at the point of care. Healthcare has always been mobile, but in our pursuit of electronic medical records (EMRs) we somehow forgot that. Our clinicians have lost their productivity. Do we even realize how much we’ve sacrificed?

Remember when a patient’s history was available on paper for the clinician to take to the bedside and decisions could be made at the point of care? EMRs clearly offer tremendous benefits for our industry. But initially, without the right mobile solutions, the implementation of EMRs meant that clinicians had to go to a desktop PC at a nurse’s station to access patient information and capture visit notes. In other words, they were losing their ability to see patient information while mobile, which affected their productivity and point-of-care decision making.

Clinicians demanded mobility solutions but many of the first generation mobility initiatives in health organizations involved porting clinical applications optimized for desktop PCs to tablets. When you try to push an application designed to be used with a large screen of real estate, a keyboard, and a mouse, onto a much smaller mobile device screen with a touch interface, it just doesn’t work well. The backlash has been a proliferation of personal mobile devices in health, none of which run the hospital EMR and all of which present myriad challenges for IT around security, management, and compliance.

To bring back a clear vision of patient information at the point of care, the right mobile solutions are critical. And the good news is we’re well on our way with today’s next-generation mobile applications and devices. For one thing, we’re seeing EMR and other clinical applications being developed specifically for tablets and smartphones. At the same time, we have a new generation of tablets that provide the convenience clinicians expect along with the enterprise-class features health organizations need. Windows 8 devices are designed to run enterprise applications and operating systems, while also being easier to manage and secure than the first generation of consumer-oriented tablets.

With these tools, clinicians now have the benefits of the EMR without sacrificing mobility and point of care decision making. Today’s mobile solutions can help them access and collaborate on real-time patient and clinical information from a variety of sources for a clear, comprehensive image of a patient’s condition. With patient information on hand wherever they are and mobile solutions that work the way they do, clinicians can be more productive. Finally, these mobile solutions will be a crucial component of health organizations getting the most out of their EMR investments. Allowing clinicians to see and document information in the EMR when and where they need to will make them much more likely to use the system to its full potential.

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Dr. Simon Kos
Health Industry Manager for Microsoft Australia

Microsoft in Health Blog

About the Author

Dr. Simon Kos | Health Industry Manager for Microsoft Australia

Dr. Simon Kos is the Health Industry Manager for Microsoft in Australia. He is responsible for the vision for health in Australia, and how Microsoft solutions and partners make that a reality. Read more