U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs


Date of this Version


Document Type



International Journal of Medical Informatics 110 (2018) 25–30


This document is a U.S. government work and is not subject to copyright in the United States.



Objective: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has deployed a large number of tablet computers in the last several years. However, little is known about how clinicians may use these devices with a newly planned Web-based electronic health record (EHR), as well as other clinical tools. The objective of this study was to understand the types of use that can be expected of tablet computers versus desktops.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 clinicians at a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Medical Center. Results: An inductive qualitative analysis resulted in findings organized around recurrent themes of: (1) Barriers, (2) Facilitators, (3) Current Use, (4) Anticipated Use, (5) Patient Interaction, and (6) Connection.

Conclusions: Our study generated several recommendations for the use of tablet computers with new health information technology tools being developed. Continuous connectivity for the mobile device is essential to avoid interruptions and clinician frustration. Also, making a physical keyboard available as an option for the tablet was a clear desire from the clinicians. Larger tablets (e.g., regular size iPad as compared to an iPad mini) were preferred. Being able to use secure messaging tools with the tablet computer was another consistent finding. Finally, more simplicity is needed for accessing patient data on mobile devices, while balancing the important need for adequate security.