Healthcare Embraces Apple iPad

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Does the Apple iPad domination of healthcare negate medical wall posters?

TECHNOLOGY With a growing list, today the iTunes App Store has 5,389 medical apps for the iPhone and/or iPad. And this doesn't include the custom solutions deployed or in development by healthcare agencies.

Apple was the first to offer a tablet in its current form factor. Millions across the globe have learned the now ubiquitous hand gestures of navigation taught by Apple. As a result, the company enjoys a healthy market share above 70 percent.

The iPad Makes Inroads Into Healthcare

Apple's first iPad won the hearts of healthcare with improved productivity, better WLAN usage, adopting cloud (offsite) storage, remote patient applications, and guidelines research. Wireless carriers have each been developing their hosted virtual storage solutions. Verizon has its Health Information Exchange (HIE) and AT&T offers Healthcare Community Online (HCO). As Electronic Medical Records (EMR) proliferate, cloud solutions facilitate centralized storage. Cloud storage provides current data to anyone accessing the infromation without requiring sychronation of many duplicate copies. Furthermore, it reduces storage capacity requirements on each device.

Through Wi-Fi and 3G communication, iPad solves the problem of healthcare getting to the cloud at any time. The iPad accelerates development of smart medical devices for home use, rehabilitation centers, and long-term facilities. The iPad could also affect evidence-based diagnosis and prevent out-of-guideline treatment. [1]

Real-World iPad Use in Healthcare : A plastic surgeon uses the iPad to demonstrate to patients what they might look like after breast reconstructive surgery. [2]

GE Healthcare demoed two new iPad versions of its primary health software, Centricity Advance and Centricity Practice Solution. These products provide clinicians with Internet access to histories and physical examinations, medication and problem lists, allergies, and even to receive urgent patient questions through messaging. [3]

The tremendous amount of healthcare and research apps keeps growing. RemoteScan is a free app that helps doctors organize electronic medical records and fiscal management systems in a centralized location by letting them scan documents directly into the system. At children's hospitals in Florida and Idaho, a customized version of the iPad app called Medical Video jLog is being used to explain CT scans and MRIs to children using interactive question-and-answer features. St. Luke's Hospital in Boise, Idaho, has loaded its iPads with about 20 educational videos on vascular procedures and physical therapy. [4]

Doctors Developing Apps : Dr. Edward Bender, a computer programmer and cardiothoracic surgeon at Cape Girardeau, has developed the CV Surgery Risk app that lets doctors and patients to estimate the risks of heart surgery. [4]

Medical students in UC Irvine's class of 2014 all received iPads as part of the iMedEd Initiative. The iMedEd website includes a blog where interested UC Irvine students can post reviews of various apps they've used. The curriculum also integrates digital stethoscopes and portable ultrasound units.

The iPad's 10-hour battery life has given Kaweah Delta hospital the notion that that it could be used to check EKG results, X-rays and monitor patients. Even the most powerfully equipped iPad is a fraction of the cost when compared with the $3,000, specialized touchscreen tablets used by many radiologists. [5]

Does iPad Replace Anatomical Wall Posters?

While nurses, physicians, and even patients may carry iOS devices, bare-walled medical office rooms could be a bit drab. Anatomy posters are not only decorative, they offer psychological reassurance that medical professionals are aware of everything patients see depicted. They give patients something informative to examine while waiting for the doctor to enter or while getting dressed after the visit. Pediatric offices particularly benefit from having colorful books and posters to keep young minds occupied. Posters are also significantly larger images on portable devices and do not require a medical professional's time to locate launch an app and locate information.

While there is some overlap in function, anatomical wall posters and desk references remain useful for patients who are not technically inclined as well as those who are but do not have personal access to the specific apps used by their physician.

Why iPad Is So Successful

The short reason for iPad success is users love the interface. Both the iPhone and iPad utilize a proprietary operating system called iOS. Apple supplies developer tools and hosts an annual developer's conference to spur the adoption if iOS. The app store provides a vehicle for app distribution, wirelessly or through Mac and Windows PC platforms.

Other manufacturers are striving to get a slice of the Apple pie. Google released an open-source operating system called Android that is gaining momentum. [6] This allows companies like Dell and Samsung to join the foray. An even more minuscule market is shared by Microsoft and the recent HP acquisition running webOS (formerly Palm). Over 100 different tablets were announced at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show.

Real-World iPad Use in Healthcare : A plastic surgeon uses the iPad to demonstrate to patients what they might look like after breast reconstructive surgery. [2]

Competitors are stymied in their efforts to match iPad prices. They must either restrict features and construct their devices with cheap components, match the quality of the iPad but add more features at a price that far exceeds the entry-level iPad, or sell at a loss. Taking a cue from Apple, HP controls development of its hardware and operating system but is late to the game. Despite previous failures by Palm, HP optimistically hopes to sell 100 million webOS devices [7] with its Summer 2011 debut of what it calls Pre tablet and phones, as well as printers and other devices.

Meanwhile, consumers continue to line up at Apple retail stores as the company struggles to satisfy demand even with astronomical production runs. Fortune tech blogger Philip Elmer-DeWitt points out, Apple's got the numbers stacked in its favor. It receives steep discounts on components for its tremendous volume. It designs its own processors, eliminating third-party commission. And Apple sells iPads directly through its own branded retail and online stores, not relying on smaller wholesale profits. Plus the obsession with quality and ease of use appeals to consumers. Tim Cook adds, "We have an incredible user experience, from iTunes to the App Store and an enormous number of apps and a huge ecosystem." [8]

Remember to wash your hands : Mobile devices also require frequent sanitation, particularly in medical environments.

Now available in two colors, as the iPad 2 reaches global distribution, it provides a new answer to the age-old question: "What's black and white and read all over?" Yes, pick the read one. But you don't have to choose between technology and wall posters. By all means, embrace the iPad for yourself and what it enables doctors to do for patients. Unless you practice solely online, display anatomical wall posters in examination rooms — not only are they beneficial to non-technical patients, they make your doctor's office look nice too! Short of this, you may need to hang multiple iPads on the walls.

Tags: computers, it professionals, mobile devices, technology, wifi

  1. Apple iPad Dominates Healthcare. Gerson Lehrman Group.
  2. Enthusiastic adoption of iPad in Chicago area hospitals.
  3. GE Healthcare pushing its EMR onto iPad.
  4. 10 Ways The iPad Is Changing Healthcare.
  5. UC Irvine Brings iPads into the Medical Classroom.
  6. Android tablets finally dent iPad market share.
  7. HP Targeting 100 Million webOS Devices, But Will You Know It’s There?
  8. Why Android Tablets Can't Compete with the iPad 2.
  9. iPad 2 case roundup (photos).