Mayo: Tablets beat laptops for EEG interpretation

By Jonah Comstock
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Dr. Matthew Hoerth of the Mayo Clinic

Dr. Matthew Hoerth of the Mayo Clinic

Neurologists at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona have shown that iPads can be an effective way to interpret electro-encephalograph (EEG) readings in telemedicine clinics, comparable to laptop and desktop computers. The authors concluded that in many ways the tablet even outperformed the traditional computers.

The team, led by Dr. Matthew Hoerth, presented a case study at the American Academy of Neurology annual conference in San Diego last month. The Mayo Clinic routinely uses telemedicine to offer EEG interpretation to four remote sites in Arizona including the Mayo Clinic Hospital and clinics in Kingman and Flagstaff.

The EEG, a diagnostic test for epilepsy and other neurological conditions, is administered on site at the remote clinics. Neurologists at the Mayo Clinic in Pheonix then interpret the results, typically on a laptop or desktop computer. In the case study, they evaluated the use of iPads instead.

"Basically, we use the tablet device to log into a computer at these remote sites," Hoerth said in a video explanation of the study. "We're able to interpret these basically on the go. This allows a lot more freedom for the physicians to access the data much more quickly and easily for patients with neurologic conditions."

The case study compared iPads to desktops and HP EliteBook laptops for the interpretation, accessing test results remotely via a thin client such as VMWare or Citrix. Researchers found that the iPad cost less, weighed less and had comparable screen resolution to both computers.

In terms of speed and performance, key efficiency considerations for doctors, the researchers found advantages to the tablet: It was significantly faster to boot up, and performance speed was comparable, even when the laptop was connected via WiFi and the iPad was connected via 4G LTE. The only disadvantage, researchers said, was the smaller screen size.

"With high volumes of EEGs, and multiple systems and facilities to read from, the efficiency of technology is essential to many physician practices," the researchers wrote in the study abstract. "Despite the marginally smaller screen size; the ease of use, accessibility, and reliability make the use of the iPad a viable option for its integration into the tele-EEG practice."