Tablets are quickly becoming some of the best medicine for the healthcare industry. Nurses with Bayada Home Health Care are showing that the smaller form-factors in particular help them spend more time with patients and less time with paperwork.
Philadelphia-based Bayada provides home-based health services including adult nursing, pediatrics, hospice, and care for mentally and physically disabled. The company has hubs in 25 states with 250 offices around the country.
While there is no shortage of clients, some visits are limited to one-hour, primarily through the Medicare Home Health benefit. That means every minute spent caring for the patient is critical and time spent on administrative duties must be spent efficiently.
To help the company keep on top of its caseloads and streamline its processes, Bayada issued 4,000 Samsung 7-inch Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus devices to its therapists, medical social workers, and other home health care professionals. The deployment followed a 20-person pilot program that found the typical nurse reduced his or her typing by nearly half an hour every working day if they were using a tablet computer during a patient visit instead of pen and paper or a laptop computer. (Faster, than a laptop? Yes, thanks to a special app from Swiftkey we'll talk more about shortly).
Bayada Home Health Care director, Ashley Wharton, says price and ease of device management were factors in adopting the Samsung brand and the Android operating system. Choosing a smaller 7-inch tablet was also an easy choice considering the physical requirements of his staff.
“It takes a lot of energy to lug around a laptop and even the larger tablets like the iPad are heavy to hold onto for several hours at a time,” Wharton told TabTimes.
More time with patients
In addition to a physical caseload, today’s healthcare worker is bombarded with change as hospitals and medical service providers undergo the rapid transition to adopt electronic records.
Wharton says the tablets are key to empowering his workers to spend more time with patients because they can access all patient data in before heading out in the morning, instantly view maps and directions to client homes, and quickly and efficiently document client care.
“We found that because we’re using these tablets that nurses do not have to report to a central office to get their assignments before visiting their patients. Instead, they download their cases to their tablet in the morning from home and head straight to their appointments,” Wharton told TabTimes.
To make it even easier for nurses to do their job, Bayada turned to SwiftKey Healthcare’s keyboard software, which Wharton says solves the frustrations normally associated with writing on smartphones and tablets.
Using a specially-developed app, the nurses fill out electronic forms faster and more accurately with the virtual keyboard. The software uses artificial intelligence to anticipate what words will be typed next and can autofill after just one or two characters (for example, typing z o results in Zoloft). It also improves over time as it learns from the user what words he or she frequently uses including medications and treatments with extremely complex and technical names.
The tool is preloaded with medical terms making it easier and faster to complete information. Nurses are able to type out full sentences and paragraphs are longer and therefore more complete information. This is especially critical during initial evaluations, which require the most documentation and therefore the most complete assessment of the patient’s condition.
The result has been better care for the patients, less after-hours paperwork for the nurses, and faster Medicare reimbursements for Bayada.
“You have to love any tool that allows clinicians to spend less time on documentation while still capturing critical and meaningful information,” Wharton said.
Since switching over to SwiftKey, 69 percent of Bayada nurses asked said they preferred using a tablet for clinical note taking, instead of a pen and paper or laptop.
Trend in healthcare?
Bayada’s adoption of tablets devices and Android is becoming less novel as the healthcare industry looks to reduce costs and increase specialization of software programs.
In terms of adoption of tablet deployment in healthcare, Android is on the rise against iPad. Adopters cite Android’s less expensive price tag to iPad devices or ($200 Nexus 7 vs. $329 iPad mini) as a main motivator.
And for medical reference and prescription drug reference tools for healthcare professionals, Android devices are catching up with iPad, including the availability of the well-known medical journal site, Medscape, drug reference tool Epocrates and clinical reference app Micromedex.
As both as an assessment tool as well as a tool to keep up with patients between visits, tablets are having a huge impact on the healthcare sector. One example is Independa’s Angela tablet, a specialized device designed to remind patients to take their medication and keep their appointments as well as video access to family and caregivers.