Printing for the Home-Care Physical Therapist

While at the 2019 American Physical Therapist Association’s (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) conference, we had the opportunity to talk with home-care physical therapists about their experiences using exercise prescription services. Many of them continue to carry photocopies of exercise sheets to give to their patients while others complained about the lack of usability of online prescription services on their smartphones.

Recognizing that there is a need for better systems, we are currently working to improve the smartphone user interface on our web-based exercise prescription service (PT-Helper CONNECT) for the home-care physical therapist. We also recognize that it is important to be able to provide a printing solution for these clinicians. Of course, if the patient decides to use our PT-Helper mobile app (on iOS and Android), the therapist can help the patient enter their unique home exercise program (HEP) code into the app to have the patient’s prescribed exercises available on their phone. However, not all patients have smart phones.

We know that PTs are very busy, so we decided to explore picking a mobile printer and configuring it to support printing from a smartphone. The first step is to find a portable printer that would work within the environment typically found by the home-care PT. We looked at:

  • Epson WF-100 (List price $299.99*)
  • HP OfficeJet 200 Mobile Inkjet Printer (List price $299.99*)
  • HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile All-in-One (List price $349.99*)

* Current list price as of Feb 27, 2019

All 3 printer options above include battery operation and Wi-Fi Direct.  Wi-Fi Direct allows your smartphone to connect to the printer without cables.  You could also use your patient’s Wi-Fi network or your phone’s Wi-Fi Hotspot.

We decided against the HP OfficeJet 250 as some reviews indicated that it did not have the option of charging its internal battery with a USB cable and requires a 100-240 VAC input source to charge. For the traveling physical therapist, this would require using a DC to AC Car Inverter instead of a USB car charger that plugs into the cigarette lighter port of your car adding cost and complexity.

We ended up purchasing the Epson for 3 reasons: (1) there was a model in the local Best Buy store for us to look at and decide that it is appropriately small and light, (2) it was on sale for $199.99 during President’s Day weekend, and (3) it’s slightly lighter at 3.5 lbs vs the 4.85 lbs of the HP OfficeJet 200.

Neither of the HP OfficeJet 200 or 250 were on the store shelves at the 2 brick & mortar stores that we visited making it difficult to appreciate how big or small they are.

Once we got the Epson WF-100, it was reasonably easy to setup with both Android and iOS devices. The Epson WF-100 printer created very clean and clear print outs. Details on how to set up the Epson printer can be found here.

As we finalize our smartphone user interface for PT-Helper CONNECT, we plan on evaluating the service and Epson printer with one of our home health clinicians. We will present our experiences in a future blog.

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