Are E-Readers Beneficial to Medical Clinical Training?

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As mobile technology, tablets, and e-readers become more and more a part of people’s daily lives, medical researchers wanted to take a look at how those devices could be applied to medical students. Three universities tested using e-readers, specifically Kindles, in a community clinic setting. How did it turn out? Overall, it was positive. Let’s look at one of the schools in detail.

Duke University was the highest participant with twenty second-year medical students and fourteen family medicine clerkship preceptors. They used the Kindles in clinics during eight months of rotations and provided feedback anonymously in online surveys. Each student and preceptor had the Kindle for roughly four weeks at a time. One of the major goals of the study at Duke was to see how beneficial the devices could be with little to no wireless or networked computer access.

The Kindles were loaded with relevant material, including family care and primary care books that are sold on Amazon. Librarians from Duke identified the titles and the clerkship director made the final selections.

Overall, the participants at Duke had a favorable view for the e-reader. Most said it was tolerable or terrific for size, weight, portability, and usability. Where the e-readers fell short was speed, with many rating it terrible. None rated it terrific. Most participants used it for searching in books and searching the internet.

When it came to patient care, most people found that it was a good resource for indirect care, such as preparing for clinical work. Seventy-six percent of participants said they did not recommend the e-reader for direct patient care, possibly due to the low rating for speed. But, eighty-one percent did recommend it for educational settings.

It seems that e-readers can be a beneficial tool for the medical community, but in the right setting. Currently, they seem to be a wonderful research for preparation or as a way to look up patient questions after direct care. As technology improves, it is possible that devices such as e-readers could eventually see more use in direct patient care as well.



This is a guest post written by Brandon Marcum. Brandon is Director of Marketing at Health Insurance Innovations. In his free time, he enjoys blogging about anything related to the healthcare industry. 

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