European Congress of Radiology 2014: Mobile Devices Promise Healthcare Enhancements
Smartphones and tablets provide cost-effective healthcare solutions
Mobile IT in radiology has been discussed in one of the refresher courses held at the European Congress of Radiology (ECR) in Vienna last March 6, 2014. Adopting tablets and mobile devices in radiology was conceptualized to provide alternatives and extensions to conventional workstations and laptop computers. Prof. Dr. Osman Ratib mentioned, “mobile devices are becoming part of our life and have introduced a disruptive but very attractive new paradigm in our professional activity." Prof. Dr. Ratib is the division head at the department of medical imaging and information sciences, University Hospital of Geneva, and chair for the ESR sub-committee on eHealth and Informatics.
Mobile devices are being used in radiology to serve as cost-effective and practical solution for on-call and remote viewing. Thus, the tools are not intended to primary diagnosis. More physicians are following the norm of purchasing smartphones and tablets, using the devices to continue medical care outside the physician’s office.
About 47 percent of doctors use a combination of smartphones, tablets and computers in their practice, according to a 2013 Mobile Trends Report from Epocrates. Mobile technology can be used for enhancing patient care, especially in medical imaging. Using such devices assists the physicians in reviewing diagnoses in real time and also facilitates easy collaboration with other medical professionals in their network.
Joseph Fernandez-Bayo, PhD, head of the digital medical imaging department at software company UDIAT in Sabadell, Spain, emphasized that, “tablets are probably here to stay. In Spain, tablets are beginning to be used in the healthcare sector. A recent survey found that 54% of professionals would be willing to use tablets in patient rounds, with 14% preferring traditional methods. However, economic restrictions and budget cutbacks have probably delayed their implementation, especially in the public sector."
Fernandez-Bayo pointed out that tablets present a promising solution, however the images should have the same quality as those in the reading room and it should appear the same. Clinicians need to learn how to establish a good viewing environment and develop good practices, such as turning auto-brightness off to ensure maximum allowed brightness and prevent direct reflections on the screen from windows of clamps. The implementation of a mobile viewer for ultrasound systems, and other digital radiography systems could help improve the its practice in the near future.
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