Prospective pilot study of a tablet computer in an Emergency Department

Int J Med Inform. 2012 May;81(5):314-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2011.12.007. Epub 2012 Jan 9.


Background: The recent availability of low-cost tablet computers can facilitate bedside information retrieval by clinicians.

Objective: To evaluate the effect of physician tablet use in the Emergency Department.

Design: Prospective cohort study comparing physician workstation usage with and without a tablet.

Setting: 55,000 visits/year Level 1 Emergency Department at a tertiary academic teaching hospital.

Participants: 13 emergency physicians (7 Attendings, 4 EM3s, and 2 EM1s) worked a total of 168 scheduled shifts (130 without and 38 with tablets) during the study period.

Intervention: Physician use of a tablet computer while delivering direct patient care in the Emergency Department.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was the time spent using the Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) at a computer workstation per shift. The secondary outcome measure was the number of EDIS logins at a computer workstation per shift.

Results: Clinician use of a tablet was associated with a 38min (17-59) decrease in time spent per shift using the EDIS at a computer workstation (p<0.001) after adjusting for clinical role, location, and shift length. The number of logins was also associated with a 5-login (2.2-7.9) decrease per shift (p<0.001) after adjusting for other covariates.

Conclusion: Clinical use of a tablet computer was associated with a reduction in the number of times physicians logged into a computer workstation and a reduction in the amount of time they spent there using the EDIS. The presumed benefit is that decreasing time at a computer workstation increases physician availability at the bedside. However, this association will require further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcomputers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Workflow