News Column

Android tablets tackle home-care challenges in California

June 1, 2014



Seven-inch, consumer-based Android tablets with 4G mobile connections are becoming regular tools of the trade for 1,300 workers at Sutter Care at Home, an affiliate of Sutter Health, a Sacramento, CA-based not-for-profit healthcare organization. The home-care and hospice agency transitioned to using tablet technology in 2012 after attempting to implement systems that used laptops at one point and, later, smartphones.

Besides providing Internet and email capabilities, the tablets, which come in four different models, use a mobile version of the Epic Systems EHR that Sutter Health uses, providing read-only data from prior hospitalizations, office visits and lab results.

Workflow has improved significantly in many areas. One key development: Documentation completion now takes 24 hours instead of the 72 hours before the use of tablets.

The tablets also help improve wound care (because homecare nurses are able to use a tablet's built-in camera to take pictures of wounds and send the photos securely to the office for inclusion in the patient's EHR) and make the direct ordering of medical supplies a snap by using standardized formulary and on-the-spot Internet access.

But device management provides its own set of challenges.

"When you deploy Epic in a hospital, you have all those super-users running around with different-colored vests answering questions," says Philip Chuang, Sutter Care at Home's Chief Strategy Officer and former Director of Information Services. "In home care, you can't do that. Not only do we have to buy the devices, but we have to figure out how to supply all this remote support. If you go with a mobile solution as the core computing platform, this is really important."

"With tablets, it's a consumer device," adds Frank Carter, Sutter's lead Technical Analyst for mobile devices. "They're not thinking about managing 1,000 devices, like we are." There are many sources for potential change, says Carter, when the device is made by Samsung, the operating system comes from Google and 4G service is provided by Verizon, Sprint or AT&T. On the plus side, the IT department is able to exert a greater level of control over the tablets than it would with laptops.

Read the full CHIME case study at

Source: CHIME

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Source: Health Management Technology

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