A Conversation with Roz Cama: The Black Bag Is Now an iPad

Everyone knows the archetype of the traditional doctor, carrying around his black bag, filled to the brim with various instruments and implements. Well, according to Roz Cama, his days of lugging around that heavy bag are numbered. After experiencing a smartphone physical in the Hive at TEDMED this week, Cama is a convert.

“The physical was chair-centric, not exam table centric, like you’ve seen in the past,” Cama explained. “You almost don’t feel like a patient, you’re just having an intelligent conversation with a colleague about something very important – your health.”

In the spirit of collaboration, rapid improvement and healthcare design, Cama switched the taller Verge stool the Medgadget clinician was sitting on during the exam out for a lower task chair, in order to get the clinician and herself sitting at the same level. The stool wasn’t originally designed to be a part of the physical, but in the bustle reminiscent of an actual doctor’s office, it inadvertently was used. The switch to a more appropriate chair has another benefit – choosing an appropriate chair for the physician reduces the risk of work-related neck and back strain.

“It’s important to be at the same eye level, ” Cama said. “It keeps the patient engaged and dignified and gives them the confidence to be an active participant in the conversation.”

And by having all of a patient’s data accessible and measurable by a single device, it allows more time for a face-to-face connection between the patient and the physician, freeing up time to both dig deeper into what’s currently happening in the patient’s life and talk about what’s coming next.

“This is very exciting – personalized, customizable medicine could be liberated by this kind of technology,” Cama said.

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