The Role of Tablets in Healthcare

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According to research, only an estimated seven per cent of nurses use tablets in their day to day work. This is despite the rapid emergence of modern technology which has occasioned advances and changes to the delivery of care to patients by healthcare providers. Such technology has eased the management of day-to-day activities among nurses as well as enabling interaction with other practitioners in the profession (justimagine, 2016). However, in the present fast-paced hospital environments, accessibility of desktop computers is not always reliable and as such, the adoption of alternative ways such as mobile tablets is crucially needed as a means of accessing patient information. Also, whereas using tablets may lead to a loss of human connection that nurses are known for, it definitely creates a better workflow for nurses. This is due to the convenience of portability as well as the potential of easing communication with coworkers and the provision of better opportunities for knowledge acquisition and evidence-based practice (Barton, 2016).

            Keywords: tablet, technology, portability, information, safety

            Postcard From the Future

            In the coming decade, the tablet will be a critical standard tool used by all healthcare professionals to manage patient information (Huston, 2013). Accordingly, a tablet is a wireless and portable personal computer with a touchscreen interface whose dimensions can range from seven to eleven inches (techtarget, 2016). They form first truly portable computer which provides ease of portability and usage in almost any healthcare setting (MedPartners, 2014). 

            Benefits of Tablets in the Healthcare Environment

            The use of mobile technologies by healthcare workers allow the care teams to be well-organized in the delivery of patient care. Moreover, the workflow in a healthcare setting is significantly influenced through the delivery of the numerous benefits of tablet computers such as portability, information acquisition, communication among others.

            Collaboration and Communication

            During hospital stays, patients are assessed and cared for by many different types of healthcare professionals. Throughout this period, critical information is communicated to each member involved in the patient care through electronic health records. In this way, patient safety is compromised when healthcare professionals fail to communicate effectively.

            Tablets allow for the availability of patient information to professionals at the touch of the screen which leads to better healthcare outcomes. Additionally, the quickness of availability of the information is important for team members since it provides the documentation of patient information needed for vital decision making.

            Also, tablets facilitate video communication between physically disconnected healthcare providers. This provides an opportunity to connect with external consultants in real time to receive advice or feedback on patients’ treatment plans (MedPartners, 2014).

            Speed of Documentation

            A tablet device provides opportunities to achieve improved speed and efficiency of nursing documentation at the patient’s bedside where a nurse can record activities and information in real time. Presently, nurses often chart after the occurrence of events which can lead to missed or forgotten information when entering into the electronic record. A tablet allows the nurse to access the patient records in order to review recent labs, new orders and other pertinent information without having to leave the patient’s room (nurses-neighbourhood, n.d). This allows the devotion of more time to the patient as opposed to movements to and from the central nursing station.

            Educational Opportunities

            Also, tablets are playing an increasingly important role in providing health information and patient education. An opportunity for patients to access tablets during their hospital stay will allow them to search online resources to find information about their medical illnesses. This helps to reinforce the important role of nurses in health teaching through the provision of reliable websites for the patients to access information among other support. Additionally, the integration of tablets into other nursing interventions will improve the patients’ self-care, independence, coping skills and knowledge base (Tiffin, 2012).


            Among the chief reasons for embracing tablets among healthcare professionals in the workplace is the convenience of carrying them to the bedside. Being able to take the tablet right to the patient, review recent health information and prescribe treatment right at the moment increases efficiency and productivity (healthecareers, 2012). Moreover, access to the patient’s medical information at the bedside enables the patient to ask questions to the healthcare team and receive an immediate response. This improves engagement with the patient through involvement in the decision making about the course of treatment.

            Patient safety

            Patient safety is a critical component in the delivery of quality care to the patient. Achieving patient safety requires access to information by the ‘right people at the right time’ (Foisey, 2017). Otherwise, medical errors can occur when health care workers do not have access to the necessary health information in the patient’s medical records. The ability to review the information at the bedside with the patient can reduce the risk of medication errors such as ordering a drug which the patient has an allergy to. In this way, the patient is an integral part of the healthcare team and having both the patient and access to their information in the same place helps to promote patient safety.

            Integration of Technology into Nursing Practice

            Evidently,  nurses require information to make decisions regarding patient care.   As patients become more medically complex, nurses will need more information to make informed decisions about their patients care.  Nurses will also need to incorporate the use of new technology along with the compassionate side of nursing (Huston, 2013). Moreover, many hospitals have transitioned to the utilization of an electronic medical record.  Adding tablets to the tools available for nurses will enable them to have access to real-time information at the bedside. Therefore, with proper education and training, nurses will be able to access information and improve their critical thinking skills (Himss, 2014).

            Education and Training

            The introduction of new technology can be challenging for some healthcare workers. Nursing informatics specialists play a vital role in assisting nurses to integrate computer technology into the nursing practice environment (McGonigal et al., 2014). Informatics nurses also provide support and direction to nursing staff as well as provide leadership. Therefore, for the adaptation to be successful, it is important that the informatics specialist recognize the different levels of skills, computer knowledge, attitudes and the nurse's willingness to learn. Also, it is important to have ongoing support for nurses after the training of the new device is completed through the availability of an information technology helpdesk to assist nurses in case they have questions or concerns about the system (Himss, 2014).

            In this way, nurses will need to understand the basic knowledge on how the tablets functions, how the software works and information on the policies and procedures.  Nurse informatics specialists will also ensure that ongoing competency in new systems is kept up to date since changes happen quickly in the digital world.


            In essence, tablets allow healthcare professionals to be more efficient in their day-to-day workflows by enhancing their ability to complete their work on the go.  The tablet also enables information to be transmitted, stored, and accessed quickly no matter where the patient is for better communication among the team, as relevant information gets responded to promptly (HP, 2014). Arguably, the future will be bursting with advances in new technology, and it is important that healthcare professionals embrace this evolution to provide more efficient and timely care to our patients since new technologies will change the way we deliver care, and the ultimate goal is to provide better outcomes for our patients and above all patient safety (Haupt, 2011).


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October 13, 2023


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