This is a continuation of a recent post where we reviewed Dr. Henry Feldman’s experiences using the iPad as his primary interface during a busy week serving as a hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital (BIDMC) in Boston.

In part 1, we reviewed his original post and his positive report on the iPad’s wireless networking capabilities, ability to easily access web-based hospital clinical applications and interactions with patients using the iPad. In part 2, Dr. Feldman detailed his experiences of what it actually like to carry the iPad around the wards and what types of clinical applications he accessed.

Below is the conclusion of our interview with Dr. Feldman, where he discusses how exactly his patient interactions were enhanced by the iPad.  Also, we delve into his dual role as both a physician and a health IT specialist, and how these two seemingly separate worlds are so key to the overall healthcare experience.

On average, how often did you hand your iPad to a patient to show them something ?

I only handed it to a couple of patients, but showed results to almost every patient with me holding it (infection control). It really helped to show them lab results, pictures of their GI studies, EKG, etc, as patients rarely can visualize these results in their heads. This was invaluable.

Can you give an example of a type of functionality that would be a game changer for the patient physician relationship?

The killer application is to show patients their studies, which already exists. I have the Netters application [editors note: our review can be found here], which lets me show patients Frank Netter’s amazing anatomy paintings of the anatomy of the procedure we are about to do, or what we are looking for in the diagnostic study we are about to do; note while the application is an “iPhone” application, when doubled on an iPad the images actually were originally very high-res, so they don’t blow up when you doublsize the application, instead you see more of them more detailed (sweet). Then I bring up with studies (GI studies such as ERCP, EGD, Colonscopy, EUS, EKG…) and compare the image with the drawing. Many patients commented it was the first time they understood their disease.

Showing a patient their labs, particularly around chronic diseases that the patient has to manage such as diabetes, is so useful, and you will find that you can teach patients a fair amount about their disease and its management when doing this. Most patients really appreciated this. Our patient portal PatientSite allows them do this as well, but without a physician standing next to them explaining the significance of the results.

The patients also got more of an understanding of how complex their care is, as you could show them all the studies, consults, etc that were “in flight” at the time as an inpatient, so they could prepare for busy/hectic days, and this really improved their acceptance of the hectic nature of modern hospitalizations.

Can you give an example of a functionality of something that is currently hindering the iPad experience in the medical realm ?

I would love to have PACS available at the bedside as well, but as I mentioned before this is a policy issue more than a technical issue as it would require “true” PACS access for physicians. There is a “sneaker-net” workaround that works for showing patients individual images, but that’s inconvenient.