Most GPs in Australia now use a computer with a practice management system like PracSoft and a system like Medical Director for reference, prescriptions and EMR. According to research published in Australian Doctor, our GPs are way ahead of other countries with computer use:
Computers are now used in 95% of practices, mainly for prescribing (83%) and billing (79.9%), although more than two-thirds of practices (68.8%) use computer-based medical records, according to the BEACH study of general practice activity in Australia 2003-04.
That compares with about 17% in the US (WSJ Article). However, some US practices are leading the world by adoption truly mobile systems so that they can spend more time with patients, and less time tapping away at a keyboard.
The following video from the Wall Street Journal follows a doctor from Ohio, USA making visits with his Tablet PC and EMR. This doctor is using a regular Tablet PC, not a At about the 2:50 mark the doctor swivels the screen and uses it as a tablet.
According to the doctor, he can review patient results and tests remotely, answer their questions, refill their medications.
The beauty of Tablet PC technology for patient interaction is that:
- There is no barrier between doctor and patient (you can see in the video that the Tablet PC screen is a barrier when used in laptop mode)
- It is easier to share information with the patient
- It can be more convenient for the doctor to write notes and annotate images
- It can create transparency which could foster a better relationship with doctor and patient.
The caveat here is that GPs must be confident with using this type of technology before using it with patients. According to the Australian Doctor article referenced earlier, if a doctor uses a computer but does not seem savvy with it, the patient may conclude the doctor is not only lacking in computer skills, but in clinical skills.
That said, a GP usually does not need to go to the extent of an MCA (Mobile Clinical Assistant) device. The best way for a GP to try out a Tablet PC may be a convertible Tablet such as the HP 2730p or the Lenovo X200t. As shown in the video, you can use a convertible as both a Tablet and a notebook.