Female health professional with elderly patient using a tablet computer

The role of the iPad in healthcare

Words provided by Jigsaw24, editorially reviewed by National Health Executive

Digital tools are changing the face of healthcare. Modern solutions are making life easier for medical professionals, improving patient experiences and cutting costs as organisations across the sector adopt innovative new ways of using technology.

And with digital transformation being encouraged as one of the cornerstones of the NHS Long Term Plan published in 2019, it is a trend that is only likely to accelerate in the UK over the next few years.

Tablet devices have been at the centre of this movement, with many healthcare organisations deploying them as part of a shift to paperless systems. Popular because of their convenient portability and the familiarity of their intuitive operating system, iPads in particular are becoming an increasingly widespread sight among staff and patients alike.

Some healthcare providers are embracing apps on the iPad for multiple different purposes. In the US, Geisinger Health System uses the devices to connect hospitalised children with their school classrooms securely, to provide language interpretation services for staff communicating with patients, and as telemedicine tools that allow mothers to bond with newborn babies in neonatal ICU incubators – demonstrating how iPadOS apps can provide incredibly versatile and effective solutions.

But the iPad has been used extensively on this side of the Atlantic, too. Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust even transformed patients’ meal orders by giving them an iPad at the bedside equipped with a menu selection app – a change that increased the speed and accuracy of meal ordering while also delivering significant cost savings in food purchasing and wastage.

The role of the iPad in hospitals, surgeries and frontline environments has evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic, as the power of tablets for enabling social distancing and safer working practices came to the fore.

Both York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and NHS Grampian, for example, have rolled out iPad devices to enable virtual visiting as a safe way for loved ones to keep in touch with patients. Through built-in videoconferencing apps like FaceTime, nurses are able to connect patients with friends and family, helping to lift the spirits of those who might otherwise feel isolated while on a hospital ward.

The iPad is especially beneficial to NHS organisations at the current time. One challenge for them to think about, though, is how to make it easier and quicker for staff to set up, prepare and manage devices prior to patient use – an important consideration when confidential personal information or data may be stored on them.

A range of solutions have been developed specifically to overcome this challenge in hospital environments and free up medical professionals’ time for more productive tasks. Virtual Visits powered by Jamf, a leading mobile device management provider, is one such solution, and offers numerous advantages to trusts, staff and patients – not least of which is that once it has been set up, they simply can get on with using their iPad immediately.

Jamf has created a solution for Zoom or Microsoft Teams videoconferencing by greatly simplifying the process of creating logins, signing in and remembering passwords.

Virtual Visits powered by Jamf can also be used by clinical staff to access video conferences remotely from their Mac, PC or mobile device, allowing them to update a patient on their condition while maintaining a safe distance.

The solution is just one example of how technology like the iPad is being used on the frontline to keep patients connected, make day-to-day life easier for medical professionals and deliver better care in unprecedented circumstances.

It is now also much simpler for NHS organisations to deploy solutions like Virtual Visits powered by Jamf and iPad, thanks to the range of frameworks they can use to commission technology projects.

The Crown Commercial Service TePAS framework, for example, features IT providers who can help healthcare trusts and public sector bodies to roll out new hardware, software and associated services at scale.

Laura-Jane Turner, Sales Operations Director at Jigsaw24 – one of the only Apple-specialist providers on that framework – believes there is huge potential within the NHS when it comes to the iPad: “I think many trusts have turned to technology as part of delivering care in totally different ways,” Laura-Jane said. “Apple devices are secure by design thanks to built-in encryption and regular software updates, so that makes them easy to adopt with confidence.

“[The] iPad is particularly well suited to the health sector and hospital environments because it is easy to move between wards and accessible to staff and patients, even if technology is not their strong suit.

“But where [the] iPad really shines is in its flexibility – the possible applications in healthcare are vast. More and more medical apps and patient services are being added to the Apple ecosystem, so it is an exciting time to be working with NHS customers on developing technology solutions that deliver better care experiences.”

And with digital transformation firmly on the NHS agenda, the role of the iPad in healthcare certainly seems set to expand further in years to come.

NHE Sept/Oct 21

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The integration of new technology, such as using virtual outpatient appointments instead of face-to-face reviews of patients in the hospital. Adapting the ways in which our NHS workers serve people has been critical in continuing to provide high-quality treatment, a positive patient experience and preventing Covid-19 transmission during the pandemic. Our healthcare sector has the potential to transform the way we continue to provide essential services while also improving patient care. But how easy is the integration of these innovations into routine NHS practice?

On the 28th of October, at the NHE365 Virtual Hospitals & Technology Enabled Care online event, we will be discussing patient flow and experience, reducing waiting times, reducing the patient backlog and increasing technology adoption. Will you be attending? 

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