Kiwi doctors swapping stethoscopes for iPads

We're used to seeing doctors with stethoscopes, now it seems an iPad is the new medical must-have accessory.

The days of old paper charts are all but over as doctors and nurses at North Shore Hospital go digital.

Peter Groom, Clinical lead for EVitals at Waitemata DHB, says hospitals are dumping paper charts in favour of a new electronic system, saving time and improving patient safety.

"Health has been one of the last bastions of paper charts and paper forms and so for the nurses and the doctor it's been a big big change."

Nurses used to spend half an hour per shift looking for misplaced charts.

Now, patient information is accessible simultaneously from secure iPads and Computers on Wheels [or COWS] all over the hospital.

"Whereas before you had to go and look for a paper chart, one single physical object, now from any computer in the DHB you can access their observations," says General Physician at North Shore Hospital, Dr Laura Chapman, "So there's less hunting for charts and more time to be spent discussing the patients care and providing the patients care."

The system also provides reminders for nurses.

"Nurses have so much to remember," says Mr Groom, "They've got so many assessments, so many patients.  Who's obs [observations] are due?  It just puts up a little red reminder saying these obs are due on this patient now."

The patient information is securely stored and the iPads don't work outside of the hospital. 

Mr Groom says patient safety is paramount, "If things go wrong we have multiple servers to back-up.  If wifi went down we have the computers on wheels, and the desktops that can run without wifi, so we've got lots of contingency there."

Waitemata is the first DHB in the country to complete a full roll out of the system.