Samsung Galaxy Note
Samsung Galaxy Note

My phone (a Galaxy Note) is a wonderful device when I think about it. I now take it for granted, but it plugs happily in to cameras, USB drives, printers, sound system, television, and even my car engine management system to diagnose and treat problems.

It can send and receive things from all these and send and receive that via e-mail, wifi, and web. It can even take output from the digital radiography controlling computer in DICOM format and let me take it to show a client or let me e-mail it to a colleague, or post it on a bulletin board.

In the space of a year I have gone from a simple slim voice call and text effort to something which is worming its way in to my whole life and making lots of things easier. My laptop even “piggy backs” on its data links (3G and WiFi) to keep me connected when away at BSAVA or VETS Now conferences. At the same time this same device pulls in personal interests like podcasts, social networking, and news feeds. I have even started using it for eBooks, though I remain sceptical about how “deeply” eBooks will penetrate my life.

There is even an ECG kit available for iPhones, though I would suspect it will not be long before Android is blessed with this too – the connectivity is much better (something about Apple putting restrictions on what their devices can do via Bluetooth).

This blog post isn’t a eulogy of a phone, just setting the scene for what these common and relatively cheap devices can now do!

I work in quite a well equipped practice. We have blood analysers, electrolyte analysers, digital radiography, ultrasound, and ECG, video endoscopy, pulse oximeters… the list goes on.

Each one of these has its own controller, from fully fledged Windows 7 PCs, through PDA-based controllers, and to proprietary systems.

What a waste.

A waste of time, effort, and money. A waste of potential.

Phones, tablets and MP3 players now have more than enough computing power to interface with these and do the controlling. It cannot be beyond the wit of our profession and our suppliers to produce the sensors and the “app” software to control them, but leave the controlling hardware to the practice.

I would envisage many benefits from this approach; a practice would need only a tablet or phone as a minimum to control all these through Bluetooth. The data would come into the device and incorporation in to the patients notes would be so much easier. I have yet to see a computer system which effortlessly integrates input from all the above mentioned diagnostics.

It would cut the cost of acquiring these facilities – there wouldn’t be the duplication of effort and electronics. One controller, interfacing with them all.

I have worked at a couple of practices now which use tablets for showing things to clients and letting vets review notes, radiographs, and so on around the building, but I think they could and should be used an awful lot more than they are.

This isn’t just the ranting of a geek, anything which makes patient records more valuable and more integrated can only be a good thing for those patients.

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