SIIM: Pros & cons of in-hospital tablets

ORLANDO, Fla.—It’s necessary to understand the use cases and advantages and disadvantages of tablets to use them in a powerful way, said Carl Miller, MD, of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore, during a June 9 presentation about mobile technologies at the annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM).

Tablets are a disruptive technology in medical imaging, according to Miller, who offered a number of reasons behind the power of the tablet.

“Mobile technology is creating new classes of medical imaging consumers beyond radiologists,” he said. Medical imaging consumption is moving beyond image-intense specialists such as orthopedists and emergency medicine physicians to primary care physicians and physician extenders and ultimately patients.

When Johns Hopkins purchased iPads (Apple) for its 40 radiology residents, the institution was soon overwhelmed by demand from clinicians for image access on the iPad. Miller and colleagues solved the dilemma by deploying an HTML5 web viewer to enable widespread image viewing.

Currently, the primary users of iPads are referring physicians, who use the devices to share images with patients, noted Woojin Kim, MD, director, Center for Translational Imaging Informatics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. However, there are implications and opportunities for radiologists, institutions and vendors.

Radiologists could use tablets to enhance consultations and to educate clinicians and patients on rounds, which is an opportunity for imaging professionals to become more embedded in the clinical care setting, said Miller. And by enabling more rapid, image-centric consultations, iPads could improve efficiency for radiologists and referring physicians by reducing wasted wait time for consultation, said Kim.

Ultimately, iPads seem likely to follow the laws of disruptive technology. That is, adopters will innovate uses, forcing competition between iPads and traditional image-viewing platforms.