December 11, 2009
Many chief information officers have smartphones on the top of their 2009 wish list. The compact mobile devices combine online access to information with PDA (personal digital assistant) functionality, making them perfect for on-the-go clinicians.
According to a report by market-research firm Manhattan Research, the number of physicians who own smartphones will increase from 64% to 81% by 2012. The October 2009 report states that the ability to complete tasks remotely will become even more indispensible to physicians in the future.
The devices are becoming the desktop of the future as hardware improves and applications become more sophisticated and robust. Programs that were formerly only available on desktops, such as PACS (picture archiving and communication system), can now easily fit in a physician's hand.
"We're no longer using it as a reference device, we're using it as a computer replacement," says Henry J. Feldman, MD, chief information architect at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
Whether your facility provided you with a smartphone or you purchased one as a gift to yourself, the experts say that you can expect to see some innovative trends in mobile health applications making their way to handheld screens next year.
1. Augmented reality
"Augmented reality" is the latest buzzword for smartphones. It describes the ability of users to view real-world structures using the GPS, camera, compass, and other hardware contained in a smartphone. WIKITUDE World Browser is one example of augmented reality.
The browser presents smartphone users with information about their surroundings, such as nearby points of interest. It works by overlaying information on the real-time camera view of a smartphone.
In healthcare, this may mean that one day patients may be able to point a smartphone at a facility and view detailed information, such as a staff directory, phone numbers, and building maps. They may even be able to take virtual tours. Think of it like a high-tech online information desk.
"It would tell you any information you want to have about a building just by where the phone is pointing," says Mark Laytar, a Web production manager at Baltimore-based University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). "It's really interesting."
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