Apple’s iPads Could Replace Paper Charts in U.K. Hospitals


Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPads may one day become a crucial component of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, as some of the hospitals there explore the use of tablets through a trial program. According to Computerworld UK, an “iPad-based patient monitoring system” has been developed by biomedical engineers and clinicians from the University of Oxford and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The new system was designed to replace handwritten observation charts and other paper-based medical records with iPads and other tablets. After a patient’s vital signs and other medical information are entered into a device, the data will provide a nurse or doctor with an “Early Warning Score.” This score will help the hospital staff to determine if a patient’s condition is deteriorating and will alert them if a patient is in need of immediate medical intervention.

Since the iPad can instantly calculate a patient’s status based on previously entered information, it will allow caregivers to more reliably keep track of multiple patients in a hospital setting. “The new system will help nurses, who work in busy, high-pressure environments, care for patients more efficiently and effectively,” said Lionel Tarassenko, a professor of electrical engineering and leader of the project, to the publication.

Computerworld UK reports that the iPad-based system is currently only being tested in three adult wards that are part of the Oxford University Hospitals Trust. However, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards NHS Technology Fund, the system will be rolled out in all the hospitals in the Oxford University Hospitals Trust by next year.

“We see the new system as a major step towards the ‘digital hospital’ in which all sources of patient information are interlinked and all healthcare staff are interconnected,” Tarassenko said to Computerworld UK. “This can only have a positive impact on patient safety.”

Although this program was specifically developed for the NHS, Oxford’s iPad-based patient monitoring system epitomizes a growing worldwide trend toward computer-based electronic health records. According to a recent study seen by Electronista, 59 percent of doctors already use tablets in their daily work, and the majority of those doctors prefer Apple’s iPads over other tablets. The California-based company may soon have another major source of revenue thanks to the increasing use of tablets in the global healthcare industry and the overall popularity of the iPad.

Follow Nathanael on Twitter @ArnoldEtan_WSCS

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