Recently, we had the chance to check in with Dr. Henry Feldman. He had posted a detailed summary of his experiences using the iPad as his main interface while rotating on service for a week as a hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess hospital (BIDMC) in Boston. Dr. Feldman is also Chief Information Architect for the Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians. His report was published on Dr. John Halamka’s great blog “Life as a Healthcare CIO” on June 11.

In part 1, we summarize his initial report which was enthusiastic on several important fronts. The summary of the following report includes his experience with the hospital wireless networks, using his hospital’s electronic health record system, interacting with patients using the iPad and how the battery life fared with clinical use. Later, in part 2, we will post an interview with Dr. Feldman to get more detail on his experiences.

Most important, was that he had a nearly seamless experience accessing his hospital clinical applications wirelessly. He wrote:

The secure wireless network handoff was amazing. As I roved around it was seamless (there is a slight dead zone on 11 Reisman as there has been for years) and the best example is that I would use the elevator ride to catch up on news/tech websites, and every time the elevator doors would open it would reconnect and download some more prior to the door closing.

He also reported that accessing clinical applications at his hospital was seamless, adding “[p]robably the most useful was rounding (or the nurse snagging you as you walked by) and during a trigger where I could stay at the bedside and do/see everything and not leave my critically ill patient.”

However, apparently most of the vital clinical applications (EHR, order entry, signout) at his hospital were designed to run in a browser so they already run “natively” on the iPad. Nevertheless, this should put EHR vendors on notice to create user interfaces that are easily adaptable for mobile devices.

He also found the iPad useful for communicating with patients:

Showing patient’s their EGD/ERCP pics, results/trends and since I have Netter’s on my iPad the anatomy of the procedure, really helped with understanding by the patients. Med reconciliation was easier too. Diet changes were instant on patients (important given the number of ERCP patients we have)

As for the device, he said that typing brief notes was not a problem with the glass keyboard and that the Apple plastic cover worked well and could be disinfected frequently. Not surprisingly, he raved about the battery life:

Battery life is epic, and I finally had to charge today at 3pm (Monday), after last charging Thursday night. This is with frequent use for clinical care, along with the inevitable demos one has to give carrying around an iPad (OMG an iPad! Show me a movie, apps, etc…). On average a full 13 hour stretch with heavy use burned 28% of the battery over the week, best 20% worst 35%.

In part 2 of this post, we will interview Dr. Feldman to learn more about his background and how he sees the iPad and future similar devices evolving into important tools for the mobile physician.