What sort of device do I need to do in-home, online medical charting?
July 3, 2011 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I guess all hospices will be required to use computer charting only this fall. Now I need a netbook? Laptop? Ipad? I'm obviously clueless about these things and have spent all morning trying to research to no avail....

I don't need anything fancy, I just have to be able to connect to the online medical charting site, hopefully while at various patient's bedsides who most likely will not have wi-fi. I'd rather not have to pay an extra monthly fee as seems the case with an ipad but in all honesty I've never really understood "how" laptops and such get online without wifi? I'd like to keep it as inexpensive as possible since it's just for work...I see the kindle has free 3g or whatever, would that work?? So any advice?
posted by yodelingisfun to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A lot will depend on the requirements of the "online medical charting site". Does your employer have any information about that system yet, or are they still in the planning phase?
posted by shiny blue object at 10:34 AM on July 3, 2011

Are you employed by an agency? I'd imagine that they'd be the ones to help you with this, right? Even if they don't provide the equipment, they have to make sure you have the proper software, training on the software, access, etc.
posted by tristeza at 10:35 AM on July 3, 2011

I think you're going to want something with a 3g connection. If it's all done online, a netbook or iPad should be fine -- no need to go for a full-on laptop.

Also seconding tristeza that someone should be able to tell you the requirements.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:38 AM on July 3, 2011

You will have to pay that monthly fee if you require online access but can't guarantee it at patient sites.
posted by bleep at 10:40 AM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: it's just an online web page where the charts are, I click the right boxes and it's all set. They will not be providing anything since we are already using it and I have nothing. Well, I have a password and a 30 minute class on how to use the system. I was told that any device that connects to the internet will owrk so my question is what will be the best device in terms of cost, and ability to connect to the internet in random people's homes...
posted by yodelingisfun at 10:40 AM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: So right now I write everything down, come home then re-enter it all on the website. This seems sorta dumb and is certainly a lot of extra work. I want something where I can just enter the info as I am getting it from the patients...I see other nurses using laptops and stuff so I know it's possible.
posted by yodelingisfun at 10:46 AM on July 3, 2011

Hm, yeah, then it sounds like a 3G connection is what you want (basically, the same kind of connection as a cell phone so you don't have to depend on WiFi). An iPad with 3G will do it (or any netbook, I would not recommend a Kindle)
posted by tristeza at 10:54 AM on July 3, 2011

Could you do this with a smartphone? A smartphone will definitely connect to the internet, and while you'll have to pay a monthly fee for it, you'll also get a phone out of the deal.
posted by KathrynT at 11:00 AM on July 3, 2011

Response by poster: I have a blackberry curve but some of the charting requires dragging a number onto a human body outline to indicate wound placement and that's a no-go with my phone. I use Verizon though so maybe an iphone would work?
posted by yodelingisfun at 11:10 AM on July 3, 2011

I work for a Home Health Agency and the visiting staff use a Smartphone to enter their data on visits. I can tell you they hate the smartphone because the screen is so small and the keyboard is tiny. I would go with at least a netbook where the screen is bigger and you have a reasonable keyboard to work with. Connection questions will have to go Verizon or whoever you have contract with.
posted by sandyp at 12:14 PM on July 3, 2011

Best answer: Perhaps something like this Virgin Mobile device + a refurbished Thinkpad. Verizon has something similar, but I think the monthly fee is more expensive. I used the Virgin Mobile device when I was moving between houses, and it worked very well. You can buy the Virgin Mobile device most cheaply at Wallmart, and Virgin's phone support for helping to setting it up was good.
A Thinkpad running Windows XP is probably adequate (depending on what your agency uses), and probably not expensive at this point.
I got a refurbished Thinkpad a few years back and it has been wonderfully reliable (recommended on the MetaFilter; thanks y'all). I got my Thinkpad on eBay. A Thinkpad would be sturdy for carrying in the field.
Any laptop would be obviously be heavier to carry around than a netbook, but I think you might find a netbook screen frustratingly small for entering your charts. My T42 model Thinkpad is on the smaller side.
posted by easilyamused at 1:20 PM on July 3, 2011

Best answer: I am a Hospice volunteer and chart electronically. I have a verizon cell that I use as a hotspot and plug my Dell laptop into it. It works great.
posted by cairnoflore at 2:39 PM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Our community based palliative care staff use a USB device similar to the one easilyamused linked, with notebook computers. They do wrote somewhat lengthy file notes though. We are looking at moving to something iPadish in the future.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:49 PM on July 3, 2011

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