Pros and Cons of Using Wireless vs. Wired for your EMR

Posted on January 21, 2006 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In an EMR I think there are really two options for documenting your EMR. One is using a tablet(or laptop or a convertible) with a wireless connection to your EMR. The second is having workstations in each of the rooms. I got a good list from NYFP on emrupdate that gave a pretty good list to start evaluating which soltion works best for you. Here’s the information he posted:

Pros of Hardwired Desktops:
* More comfortable to use
* Won’t lose wireless connections
* No Batteries to change
* Upgraded Microphone
* Larger Monitor
* Regular Keyboard
* Regular Mouse

Cons of Hardwired Desktops:
* Kids can break them
* Must log out/log in when leaving or entering treatment room
* You have to stay in treatment Room to finish note which will prolong the visit, furthermore, the nurse may also come back into the room to draw blood or give immunizations, all while you’re writing your progress note. (NOT ME! As soon as the visit is over I need to disappear!)

* If I want to finish my progress note outside of the treatment room, than Ill have to go to my private office and use that Desktop, as well as log in again, all in between patients, and this will ultimately take longer.
* Does not work in hallway or up at reception desk
* Expensive to run internal wiring to treatment rooms
* Patients may see what youre writing

Pros of Tablet PC:
* Integrated Handwriting Recognition
* Touch Screen for faster clicking on templates
* Integrated Microphone for Voice Recognition
* Can easily look at patient while taking history
* Very Mobile
* You can leave the treatment room and finish your progress note in the hallway or in an empty room, and an additional benefit will be that you have ended the visit sooner, thereby saving yourself time with the patient, and you can now go directly to the next patient treatment room
* You can easily write a prescription at the front desk with Tablet PC in hand
* It can function as a Desktop in an emergency, if a Desktop should Crash.
* You can throw it at someone!

Cons of Tablet PC:
* Lose the wireless connection and your F****d
* Poorer microphone quality
* You can drop it
* Can be stolen
* Must charge and change batteries
* Smaller screen
* More difficult to type on
* Must carry it around with you
* Difficult for Medical Assistant to carry, while maneuvering EKG machine, carrying urinalysis sample or blood tubes.
* More expensive per unit

Modifications for Tablet PC:

* You can have a Port-Replicator/Docking Station for the Tablet PC (hooked up to an AC-Line) in each treatment room with options for an; external keyboard and mouse, larger monitor if desired, better microphone, and hardwired Ethernet connection.
This will make it more difficult to use handwriting recognition

Modifications for Hardwired Desktop:
* May be setup with wireless technology, to save on expensive internal wiring to treatment rooms.
May add a Handwriting Pad to it
Fingerprint reader for faster login.

In my opinion, the 2 major issues are:
Wired
The constant logging in and out of the EMR. What if you forget and how much time does it take to log in and out.

Wireless
Dropped wireless connections

All the rest is interesting, but deciding which of the 2 evils you can handle is what I consider the most important question.