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E-book Revolution Changes, Challenges Healthcare

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, May 22, 2012

Some reading this might counter that electronic medical records come with their own drug interaction database. I asked McCann about this.

"A lot of those EMR drug interaction systems are pharmacy-based," she says. "We use nursing considerations. For example, one adverse reaction to a drug might be dry mouth. We say remember to encourage the patient to drink or do something to alleviate the dry mouth. That's nursing care as opposed to medical care. We turn it into the nursing actions that are related to that particular drug."

The e-book is only going to grow in importance in healthcare. Consider the ability on many e-book platforms for the reader to easily highlight material. Now add a social element. On the Kindle, e-books I've read can display highlighted passages as gleaned from other readers of the same book. It's another great way to learn and keep current.

Let's just hope in the rush to electronic medical records that e-books remain affordable and accessible. Let's hope some of what made traditional medical libraries great, such as interlibrary loans, remains a part of the solution.

The transition away from print journals from great institutions such as Cleveland Clinic is bound to impact smaller medical libraries that can't afford their own medical journal subscriptions and have relied on interlibrary loans.

McCann told me one other poignant story. It seems that back in her hospital days, some of the paper references had a habit of walking off. So nurses drilled a hole up in the corner of the book. "We took a chain and attached it to the drug cart," she says.

That's testimony to the power of information in healthcare, and the lengths to which staff will go to have access to it. In the brave new world of e-books, we have to preserve and expand that access.


Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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