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Serious Games For Responsive Healing

A community medical center near Philadelphia, Doylestown Hospital relies on a mobile workforce of 360 independent physicians to provide a highly responsive healing environment for thousands of patients.

Those physicians stay connected 24/7 to colleagues and hospital staff with their first responder: Apple iPhone 3G. With iPhone, doctors get access to patients' vital stats, medical reference applications, and breaking health alerts to provide collaborative and efficient patient care.

Like most healthcare providers, Doylestown Hospital has an inherently mobile workforce. And for years, the hospital's IT team searched for the right portable communications tool: a multi-function, indispensable device that provides real-time information to community physicians.

"Physicians need something that is a beeper and cell phone, and that allows them to get messages and information about patients," explains Dr. Scott Levy, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. Physicians also need on-the-fly access to patient and clinical data stored in the hospital's databases.

To meet these requirements, Doylestown prescribed iPhone for its doctors and staff. Moving to iPhone offers Doylestown doctors immediate time-savings benefits and productivity gains. Physicians no longer have to rely solely on patient charts or hospital computers to access information; instead, they can use iPhone to retrieve the data wherever they are. "iPhone offers a major workflow improvement for our physicians," says Rick Lang, Doylestown's Vice President and Chief Information Officer.

Finger on the Pulse

iPhone became an instant favorite among Doylestown physicians, in part due to its ease of use. The IT department can activate each physician's iPhone in less than five minutes, and doctors have no trouble learning to use their new phones. "iPhone is so intuitive that we have never trained doctors how to get information," Lang says.

Doylestown physicians rely on iPhone features like push email, calendar, and contacts from Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. In fact, a vital part of their workflow is using push email on iPhone to receive the hospital's time-sensitive email alerts.

The Doylestown team appreciates iPhone's crystal-clear voice capabilities as well. With some smart phones, voice clarity is an issue, and entering phone numbers can be time-consuming for busy doctors, Levy says. "But iPhone is just the opposite. It's a really good phone."

And with the help of repeaters, mobile users have consistent cellular service on iPhone anywhere in the hospital, including ICU, so they can be on call and available around the clock.

Secure Links to Vital

One reason for the enthusiastic adoption of iPhone at Doylestown is its ability to give doctors secure mobile access to the hospital's electronic medical records system, MEDITECH Client/Server 6.0. "Literally anywhere a physician is in the world, as long as that doctor has secure access to the Safari browser on iPhone, they can access patient information," says Levy.

Using iPhone and MEDITECH, doctors can see everything needed for patient care, including vital signs, medications, lab results, allergies, nurses' notes, therapy results, and even information about patient diet. "Every dictated report from every specialist, or any radiographic image the patient has ever had, is available on iPhone," says Levy. "The iPhone has been remarkable in a lot of ways. The capability to download clinical information in real time has been very powerful."

Since physicians access MEDITECH only through Safari, Doylestown IT can set the same high level of secure authentication and audit-trail security on iPhone that they maintain with all Web-based medical records applications. Information is stored on the server, so confidential information stays secure.

Point-of-Care Assistant

iPhone also makes a positive impact at patient point-of-care, helping physicians quickly answer questions and make a well-informed diagnosis. Doylestown doctors access iPhone medical reference applications such as Epocrates Essentials to help explain diseases, interpret lab results, and provide drug information right at the patient's bedside. If a patient is concerned about interactions between multiple drugs, the doctor can quickly double-check the medications with the Epocrates app.

"Anything that improves healthcare ultimately helps patients," Levy says. "With more applications and more iPhone use, we've seen clear, noticeable improvements in patient care."

The superior image and wide screen of iPhone help Doylestown doctors explain surgical procedures to patients, enhancing overall doctor-patient communication. Patients appreciate seeing a visual indicator of what the doctor plans to do. "The question used to be, 'How do you have something that fits in your pocket, but is large enough to view the information you need?'" says Levy. "With iPhone, doctors can magnify and get a virtual screen of any size."

At bedside and beyond, iPhone helps the Doylestown medical team work more efficiently, improving communications not only between doctors, but throughout the local healthcare community. Above all, iPhone enables Doylestown physicians to deliver better patient care.