- Associated Press - Sunday, January 24, 2016

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - Ever since Wes Pitts, pharmacist with North Mississippi Medical Center, purchased an iPhone in 2009, he’s adapted mobile technology and the Apple App Store to his medical practice.

According to a study by the Minnesota Medical Association in 2011, 72 percent of physicians use their smartphone as part of their jobs.

When Pitts - a self-proclaimed “Apple junkie” - isn’t using his phone to arm his alarm system, turn his thermostat up or control his lights at home, he downloads specific medical apps to boost productivity, like Epocrates - a pill identification app.

“If the patient says they can’t remember what a pill looks like, I can use Epocrates to identify the drug,” Pitts said. “It’s useful for me if I have this random capsule or tablet, and I don’t know what it is. I can go in and put the imprint code of what’s printed on the capsule to identify the drug.”

Epocrates keeps Pitts from having to call the pharmacy or browse through lengthy electronic medical records.

Pitts regularly sees patients with diabetic ketoacidosis, and uses the app MedCalc to calculate complex equations for total parenteral nutrition - a therapy where patients are fed through their veins.

“If they have a high blood sugar, we’ll correct their sodium levels,” Pitts said. “If your blood sugar is elevated, your sodium will be falsely low. I use MedCalc to help me calculate their correct sodium.”

Pitts uses his iPhone every day, mostly when he’s interacting with direct patient care activities.

“That’s when I might need to look up something or I’m talking to a patient, and I need to identify a medication that’s part of their medication history where I would show them a picture of the pill, or I’m working with a physician to try to come up with a therapy for a patient,” Pitts said.

Before the iPhone, Dr. Carl Bevering and Dr. Louis Rosa III, neurosurgeons at NMMC, would rummage through dusty cabinets to find coma and stroke score sheets.

To cut down on time and improve accuracy, Bevering and Rosa downloaded an app on the iPad that includes hundreds of scales, like the Glasgow Coma Scale, used to describe the level of consciousness in a person following a traumatic brain injury.

The neurosurgeons can input data into the app to check for risk stratification for a patient.

“I use the app to show patients and families when someone comes in with a real bad thing, and a common one in Mississippi is a intracerebral hemorrhage,” Bevering said. “I can show them the chance of somebody dying in 30 days.”

Rosa said scores are important because they provide a baseline or a reproducible method to describe what a patient is doing. He no longer has to carry reams of paperwork; it’s all in his pocket.

“Those are important for when you are trying to assess a patient to see if a patient’s stroke is bad enough that they should have clot-busting drugs,” Rosa said. “You really want to give people reliable information that’s repeatable.”

To show patients a better view of the brain, Bevering uses an app with a 3D model of the brain. He can show patients the fluid containers, point to where he will insert a catheter and show main blood vessels.

“It’s cut down hours of time. I can rotate (the brain model) any way and show it upside down,” Bevering said. “We can show how vessels affect the entire brain. It’s nice to show them in an attempted 3D model.”

Since Bevering graduated medical school in 1994, he’s seen medical education move toward simulated surgical apps for surgery training.

“When I was a medical student, if I had this before, I would be able to see what the surgery would be like before,” Bevering said. “Back in the day, I didn’t have Internet access. Now, I could be able to be familiar with certain surgical procedures.”

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Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com


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