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BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2013 Sep 2;13:99. doi: 10.1186/1472-6947-13-99.

Benefits of a physician-facing tablet presentation of patient symptom data: comparing paper and electronic formats.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Rice University, 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005, USA. pkortum@rice.edu.



Providing patient information to physicians in usable form is of high importance. Electronic presentation of patient data may have benefits in efficiency and error rate reduction for these physician facing interfaces. Using a cancer symptom measurement tool (the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI)) we assessed the usability of patient data in its raw paper form and compared that to presentation on two electronic presentation formats of different sizes.


In two separate experiments, undergraduates completed two identical six-part questionnaires on two twenty-patient MDASI data sets. In Experiment 1, participants completed one questionnaire using a paper packet and the other questionnaire using an in-house designed iPad application. In Experiment 2, MDASI data was evaluated using an iPad and iPod Touch. Participants assessed the usability of the devices directly after use. In a third experiment, medical professionals evaluated the paper and iPad interfaces in order to validate the findings from Experiment 1.


Participants were faster and more accurate answering questions about patients when using the iPad. The results from the medical professionals were similar. No appreciable accuracy, task time, or usability differences were observed between the iPad and iPod Touch.


Overall, the use of our tablet interface increased the accuracy and speed that users could extract pertinent information from a multiple patient MDASI data set compared to paper. Reducing the size of the interface did not negatively affect accuracy, speed, or usability. Generalization of the results to other physician facing interfaces is discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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