Boston Children’s Hospital relies on two different tablets to take care of its kids

September 10, 2012

First up is the prestigious Boston Children's Hospital. This Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate is using tablets for paitent exam reports and to create greater efficiencies.

Talk about a multi-use facility. The Boston Children’s Hospital’s tablet program uses not one, but two different brands of tablets in its program.

“We have a staff of around 30 audiologists and 10 of them use Lenovo tablets, Dr. Brian J. Fligor ScD, told TabTimes. Dr. Fligor is the director of diagnostic audiology at the teaching hospital.

The tablet is used to help record findings from an electronic audiogram, he explained. “Documentations are done within 30 seconds. We used to do it by paper; a short report would take an average of 27 minutes. A majority of audiologists still do that.”

The Windows-based Lenovos were bought in 2011.

The hospital also uses a Fujitsu slate (also Windows) at one of its business sites, he went on to explain. The doctor calls them “phenomenal work horses.” They are used, like the Lenovo, during a clinical encounter.

The department went through a learning process of settling on a tablet vendor. Earlier it had 13 tablets from Motion Computing purchased in 2008-2009, but Dr. Fligor said they were found to be “unstable” and they no longer use them. Fujitsu and Lenovo are now the hospital's preferred tablet vendors.

The hospital has worked with Mi-Co, a company that develops data capture for tablets and other devices. According to Dr. Fligor, the hospital is “investigating iPads” to see if they might be a worthwhile addition to its tablet program.

“We are working with Mi-Co to see what it would take to convert the Windows-based form we use now,” he told TabTimes. “Right now, we use a stylus. We would have to change our process. Implementation depends on budget allocations,” he said.

Tablets and life or death decisions

Asked what exactly the tablets produce for the hospital, Dr. Figor has a ready answer. “Primary pieces of data. Test results that describe hearing ability, which are very important to determine if a patient needs a hearing aid, medication or surgery. It could be a life issue if an oncologist has to decide whether a patient needs more chemo.”

Around 2005, Dr. Fligor and hospital execs started to move toward electronic record keeping as per new Federal regulations. “Long story short, we evaluated a lot of tech for digitizing. The true winner was Mi-Co,” he said.

“We met with them and showed them our hospital-approved form and how we needed to get it to look exactly the same way on a tablet.”

The department head says he believes the hospital’s pulmonary department also uses tablets. He estimates that among all departments there are approximately 300 tablets in use at Children’s Hospital.

For his work with a patient, the doctor holds the tablet during the exam with one hand. The other hand is pushing buttons on an audiometer. Each doctor saves four minutes per exam by using a tablet, he said.

"That’s a major time savings,” he said. “It’s four minutes [less of spending time on paper work with the patient in the room] across 20,000 patient visits. We get about 800 hours per year of savings. Each of my doctors can see more patients, which transfers into greater revenue.”

The doctor notes that four minutes of time is not four minutes off patient contact time. “It reduced the administrative burden,” he said.

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