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    Digital OB/GYN: I know I need a tablet, but which one?

    In a soon-to-be-published article in the International Journal of Medical Information, researchers report on a program designed to evaluate the effect of tablet computers at a busy healthcare organization. Over the 18-month study more than 40 providers were surveyed about their experience, and “more than half of [the] providers perceive[d] the use of the tablet device as having a positive effect on patient communications, patient education, patients’ perceptions of providers, time spent interacting with patients, provider productivity, process of care, satisfaction with EHR when used together with the device, and care provision.”1 Providers liked their tablet experience and were able to integrate the devices into their daily workflow in a meaningful manner.

    Since we last featured tablets in this column in 2013, the tablet landscape has changed dramatically.2 For starters, the field has narrowed to 2 main manufacturers (Apple and Microsoft), the features have expanded exponentially, and prices have aligned (entry-level for both devices is $799). But while these 2 devices are nearly ubiquitous in healthcare institutions across the country, their features are very different.

    In the article referenced above, the authors state that “[g]ender, number of years in practice, practice type (general practitioner vs specialist), and service type (inpatient/outpatient) were found to have a significant effect on perceptions of patient satisfaction, care process, and provider productivity.”1 If you began practicing in the paper-chart era, the concept of integrating a device without a keyboard, let alone a computer, could be foreign and uncomfortable. However, since the authors deployed only Microsoft Surface tablets, it’s quite possible that study participants were not familiar with Windows 8 and would have been more facile with an Apple operating system. Unfortunately, research on this topic is so new that this is the sole best study to address integrating tablets into a provider’s daily workflow. So back to the question at hand: Which is the best device?

     

    Brian A. Levine, MD, MS, FACOG
    Dr. Levine is Practice Director at the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, New York, New York.

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