Daily Archives: May 26th, 2009

A New Tool In The Doctor’s Bag

They say the Internet has revolutionised the way the world is doing business and undergoing education. That’s true in medicine as well – gone are the days that medical students cut up human cadavers and lug around Gray’s Anatomy. The use of virtual 3D models and optical discs has made studying medicine a bit more bearable; but even these technologies will fall by the wayside in the future.

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Smartphones..the most important tool after the stethoscope

A recent study Taking The Pulse v9.0 issued by Manhattan Research found that 64% of doctors, more than double the number eight years ago, are using smartphones — iPhones, BlackBerrys, Treos and other hand-held devices.

Smartphones

How can smartphones help? Some examples:

  • A doctor seeing a patient for the first time can be astounded by the variety of pills given by previous doctors. By feeding in the shape, colour and probable use of the pill into a software called Epocrates, one is able to obtain a list of medications and images that match those criteria, allowing the doctor to identify the pill.
  • While dining in a restaurant, a doctor can receive an attachment by email showing an ECG done by a colleague of a patient about to get a heart attack. Previously, he would have had to stay at home and wait by the fax machine.
  • By the bedside, a doctor can check immediately the dosages of medicines, drug interactions and even show images to help the patient understand better.
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My favourite - the Blackberry Bold - largely because many medical programs are Windows-based

Such is the popularity of these devices that some medical schools, like Georgetown University in Washington DC  already require their students to each use a smartphone. This is a trend catching on fast and it looks like a matter of time before they are used in all med schools.

But with any new technology, there are reservations. Take privacy concerns, for example..all this patient stuff in a smartphone can fall into the wrong hands and create confidentiality issues. There are concerns too by some patients that it would be quite annoying talking to a doctor who’s busy peering into the small screen and apparently not paying attention to what is being said!

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