iPads Bring Mobility to Patient Care - Northport VA Medical Center
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Northport VA Medical Center


iPads Bring Mobility to Patient Care

From left, Dr. Mark Sandberg, clinical neuro psychologist, gets help setting up his new iPad from Casey Alford, a VA Mobile Help Desk contractor.

From left, Dr. Mark Sandberg, clinical neuro psychologist, gets help setting up his new iPad from Casey Alford, a VA Mobile Help Desk contractor.

By Todd Goodman
Thursday, April 23, 2015

The VA Mobile Health Provider Program is bringing mobile computing to Northport’s clinical settings.  On April 15-16, more than 200 iPads were distributed voluntarily to medical center staff to enhance the way providers deliver health care to veterans.

The program aims to improve veteran health by leveraging the power of mobile technology to transform the way clinicians and patients interact. Some of the benefits include quick access to real-time information to allow for informed clinical decisions, in addition to a series of health inventory apps for patients to assist with self-management. These apps will allow providers to write progress notes, enter a subset of orders, view electronic patient records, and complete other clinical tasks.

Before now, clinicians had the use of cell phones and laptops, but laptops are too cumbersome and cell phones can have security issues.  Additionally, cell phones cannot display the computerized patient record system, which easily will be viewed on the iPad.

“With the laptops, remote access was painfully slow and they were incredibly bulky to transport,” said Dr. David Lin, chief health informatics officer and the program point of contact for Northport.  “They have terrible battery life and the security policy on the laptops became overbearing, making them practically unusable. Boot up times could take half an hour.”

It’s about practicality, eliminating a step and making life easier on both the veteran and provider. With instant, full access to charts and current information, time can be saved and possibly more patients seen in more innovative ways.

“I can use the iPad as a tool to do therapeutic activities with the veterans,” said Patrick Campbell, assistant chief of recreation therapy service. “There’s an app I can use to play memory games with veterans who have cognitive deficiencies.”

The new equipment comes with a learning curve, but for many, being untethered will be worth it. For Dr. Mandar Tank, assistant chief of staff for Primary Care/Emergency Room, who jokingly said he receives 10,000 calls per day, the iPad equals freedom.  Access to Outlook email, a VA App catalog that will offer commercial mobile health apps, VPN to access the enterprise network when off-site, and Citrix Access Gateway to view CPRS, VistA, VistA Imaging and other desktop software help staff stay connected no matter their location.

“For me, it’s different,” he said. “Most of the time, I’m in meetings, not at my desk. Nurses call me. Patient advocates call me.  The emergency room calls with questions about a patient’s medication. I have to go back to my desk to get this information. I won’t have to do that anymore, so for me it will be very beneficial. For me, it will be a big change.”

Staff is encouraged to use the iPads in daily interactions as much as possible—whether at work, at home, or on-the-go.  For more information, please visit the VA Mobile Health website at https://mobilehealth.va.gov.


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