Sunday, April 11, 2010

Will Apple revolutionize medicine with the iPad?

In the Washington Post, you may have caught the article titled, "With the iPad, Apple may just revolutionize medicine." How will the iPad revolutionize medicine? This weekend, I saw a few medical students attending the Association of MD/MBA Programs 8th Annual Conference and at least two students were taking notes on the iPad.

So, how will this mobile device revolutionize medicine? If the iPad becomes ubiquitous in the hospital setting and if health care providers are using this mobile device to access patient data and imaging studies, then the small and light iPad could improve efficiencies in many aspects. However, we know that the iPad is not a "rugged" device, so will we see other versions that are specifically designed for the health care environment? We've seen several manufacturers create Mobile Clinical Assistants like the Motion C5 and the Panasonic Toughbook H1. These devices are designed for inpatient settings, so will we see a "clinical" version of the iPad emerge soon? The addition of a silicon sleeve won't protect it from other common hospital forces like splashes, drops, and germs.

The iPad has been engineered for the consumer market, but let's see what Apple comes up with for the health care industry.


  1. I'm not saying it's revolutionary (physicians do seem excited about it), but it seems you may be picking nits. How clean, durable and protected are the iphones that half of doctors now seem to have? or clipboards and manila envelopes? There may be some designs that could add value to clinical settings, but I don't see these hampering adoption by too much.

  2. Good points. Obviously, we feel like we have a better play with our Toughbook H1 device--which, as you mentioned, was specifically designed with the healthcare industry in mind.

    However, I think one of the key points that is being ignored in the whole discussion (here and beyond) is that there is no such thing as one type of healthcare user. Doctors are different than physicians, who are different from nurses, who are different from home health nurses, who are different from phlebotomists. As such, there's no such thing as a universal computing device for healthcare users.

    We've often found that our best healthcare customer implementations are those users that roll out multiple devices--and not try to make all roles utilize one type of device.

    So, whereas the iPad is probably not right for point of care usage--for the reasons you point out and many others--maybe there are niche plays (e.g. patient self check-in, patient education) where the iPad might be a fit.

    However, the best thing that the iPad has done is simply to further the conversation about the need for caregiver mobility and benefits of greater access to important healthcare data.