Should you be using a tablet?

Upgrading your office or building a new one? With the prevalence of technology in today’s environment, you may have considered integrating tablets into your practice. Electronic medical records (EMRs) are becoming more common in small practices due to reduction in physical space needed for storage. If your office is using paper or laptops, but is considering an alternative, here are some things you may want to consider about tablets.

Pros of tablets in an office

  • Get office paperwork done faster. If tablets are available in a waiting room, patients can enter the necessary information, sign consents and receive information relevant to their office visit. Physicians can also reduce the amount of clutter and paper in their office. Certain HIPAA-compliant apps even allow physicians to access and send patient records, X-rays and test results.
  • You’ll no longer have to worry about transcribing patient information. With a tablet, the legibility of a physician’s – or even a patient’s -- handwriting is no longer an issue. Reduce medical errors with apps or programs that ask for typed-in information.
  • You can provide multimedia presentations and images that demonstrate to the patient what you are talking about, whether it is a procedure or a diagnosis. This can increase patient satisfaction and establish better communications between you and your patient.
  • Increase workflow management. With the use of a tablet, medical assistants no longer need to be in the room with the physician and patient and can assist with maintaining a good workflow. Physicians are able to easily access patient files, provide information and make lab and prescription requests.

Cons of tablets in an office

  • The cost of a tablet varies depending on which product and programs you choose to utilize. Some, with the initial purchase and additional app costs, can become expensive and too far out of budget.
  • You need wireless access. While wireless capabilities are a plus when it comes to transporting the tablet around the office, lag time can occur if you don’t have a solid network. You’ll also need to ensure information is encrypted to avoid security risks.
  • Bacteria control can be a risk. If the tablet is going in and out of patient rooms, or coming in contact with a large number of people, it needs to be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Some consumer models may not withstand the frequent cleaning for as long as you had hoped.
  • You'll need to charge and back up the device. Battery life varies from tablet to tablet but with constant use, a single tablet may not last the entire day. To avoid losing important records and information, the device needs to be backed up. Some tablets have cloud computing available so you don’t need to plug in anywhere, but some don’t. You may also want to back up on an off-site hard drive for an extra measure of data protection.

Whether you choose to make the transition to tablets or not, it’s good to know what it would entail. Benefits vary from increased workflow to easy access to a patient’s records. Downsides to tablet use include the possible spread of bacteria as well as security and backup risks.

Erica Bell is a small business writer who focuses on topics such as technology and social media trends. She is a web content writer for