Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

iPad: The New Black Bag

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

iPad: The New Black Bag

Article excerpt

It's pretty impressive how tablet computers, particularly the iPad, have quickly become the must-have gizmo among physicians. I think it's the portability, usability, and battery life that have made it so useful. As electronic health records (EHRs) are increasingly designed to run on the iPad platform, this partnership will become the doctor's new black bag.

This is the first portable computing device that truly will run all day without you're having to worry about it dying in the afternoon. The thinness and light weight make it something you don't have to think about when it comes time to leave the house or office to go to a meeting or appointment. With a 4-pound laptop, I'll give it some thought if the utility outweighs the inconvenience of carrying it around. With an iPad, I sometimes have to check that I have it with me because it is so light and slim. This is what makes it easy to take on rounds or have with you when seeing patients.

So these characteristics enable its usefulness, while its usability and numerous apps are what make it sprint past the others. The iPad's ready communication abilities - texting, e-mail, phone (via VoiP, like Skype or Google Voice), and web tools like Twitter and Facebook - make it a handy communication tool, (though often a smartphone will take over for these functions.)

The numerous medical apps are particularly useful. Epocrates and Medscape help you look up medications and drug interactions. I also keep Stat ICD-9 and Stat E&M to look up codes (a necessity for hospital-based psychiatry). I have Dragon Recorder to dictate when I'm away from my MacBook, where I have Dragon Mac-Dictate installed (works great). Keynote is great for viewing and creating presentations. GoTasks syncs with my Google account for to-do lists. And I also have Citrix, allowing me to log in to my hospital's EHR to access patient charts and enter orders. Many other great apps are out there for the psychiatrist. There is a free PHQ-9 tool, STAT Depression Screener, which is basic and has some limitations, such as providing a "provisional diagnosis" of, say, "Major depression, moderately severe" and insufficient response to the self-harm question. …

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