Monday, July 26, 2010

Will every doctor carry an iPad in the hospital?

Imagine a medical television show where every doctor carries an Apple iPad around the hospital. When Apple launched the Newton MessagePad many years ago, that's probably the image they were dreaming about. However, the MessagePad was too expensive and there weren't enough doctors who were willing to adopt that type of advanced technology in the clinical setting.

Times have changed. Many doctors are now using devices like the iPhone or iPod touch. Soon, we'll see them carrying iPads everywhere so that they can access all the digital information in the hospital. I'm talking about telemetry reports, electronic health records, computerized physician order entry, and more.

The Apple iPad isn't the only slate computing device that's out there, but it's emerged as one of the first. So, if the iPad sees the type of success that the iPod has seen in the MP3 market, then I can easily envision that every doctor out there may be walking around the hospital with an iPad (or a similar device) in the white coat pocket. 

By the way, that photo isn't an iPad. 

1 comment:

  1. No. There are several reasons:

    1) It's too big - you cannot use it one handed. Will it fit in your coat pocket? If not, you want to keep at least one hand occupied carrying it? If it does, do you want it banging around as you work with patients, run down hallways, etc.

    2) It's not connected to sensors. Can you use it to replace other equipment? If not, it's just one more thing to carry. Can you replace your ECG machine with this and a set of leads? No. Can you use it as a point-of-care ultrasound machine? No. And how many Bluetooth devices are our there and how many of those connect to the iPad/iPhone platforms?

    3) How to you clean it? Can Cidex be used on it? Other disinfectants? Can you drop it and expect it to work when you pick it up? What about getting it wet?

    Make no mistake, a lot of doctors will want to carry it and many will. There will also be hospital administrators who want to mandate it, but it will be an unmitigated disaster as with any other technology that is mandated. There is nothing special about the iPad except that it's first (which it's not... there are a lot of medical-targeted tablet computers out there, but they tend to be quite expensive... but they can handle a 6 ft drop to a concrete floor and might be water proof and Cidex-able, for example). The price point is nice and anyone happy with the iPhone will probably find this device useful and easy to use. It just won't do much that I think I want my doctor to do with her portable compute device.