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Archive October 2014 XV, No. 10

7 Ways to Use Smartphones and Tablets in the OR

Your crash course on using mobile devices at your facility.

Kendal Gapinski

Kendal Gapinski, Contributing Editor


calming kids with tablets loaded with games JUVENILE JITTERS Tablets loaded with games are more effective than sedatives for calming kids before anesthesia.

Smartphones and tablets are already widespread in the OR, but experts say there are more ways to use them than just as modern-day beepers. We asked around and found the 7 coolest ways to use mobile devices in your facility.

1 Patient communication

Apps for smartphones are changing how doctors are interacting with their patients. After seeing patients struggling with colonoscopy preps, Paul Berggreen, MD, at Arizona Digestive Health co-created an app to communicate instructions to patients more clearly.

Dr. Berggreen has improved his SmartClinic app since it first launched in 2012. It now works with other clinics and specialties. Patients download the app for free (there's a fee for facilities to join), and it places notifications in their calendars, sending them appointment reminders and passing messages between providers and patients. Other features include written or video pre-op instructions and satisfaction surveys. Best of all, he says, SmartClinic sends patients their procedure results — before they even leave recovery.

"It clarifies the whole process," says Dr. Berggreen.

There are plenty of medical apps out there for Apple and Android phones to help facilitate physician-to-patient communication, but the best let doctors demonstrate procedures to patients clearly, says Satish Misra, MD, managing editor of and a cardiology fellow at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. Free apps like drawMD and Orca Health are 2 that work great, he says, and let surgeons draw on X-rays or anatomical bodies. Tablets can also be used in the waiting room to let patients watch videos or read fact sheets on the type of procedure they are receiving. This way "everything they hear isn't totally new" when they first meet the surgeon, says Dr. Misra, noting that increased communication often equals increased satisfaction.

2 Visualization and navigation
If a piece of OR equipment uses a camera, there's a good chance developers are making it compatible with smartphones and tablets.

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