Medicine is the Apple iPad sweet spot

Medicine is the Apple iPad sweet spot

Summary: This device transforms medical practice and delivers a solid, easy-to-follow upgrade path directly from paper.


Now that we know what Apple has been working on these last many months (it's an iPad) one of the first questions has to be, what do we do with it?

The answer is it's what your doctor has been dreaming of ever since the PC revolution began.

Take a look at the specs. It's a half-inch deep and weighs just 1.5 pounds. The screen is about 10 inches on the diagonal. It's basically a smart notepad.

Imagine this in a flip-up case, in every examination room at your clinic.

The nurse sets up the chart, the doctor walks in with a stylus and examines you, and when he's done the chart goes into the file and the prescription is waiting at the desk for you, printed clearly, along with your Coordination of Care Record. Hand the nurse your credit card and you're off.

Doctors love iPhones. They know how to use iPhones. Which means they're half way through their iPad training already. And all those clever little software companies that dialed-down their medical applications to fit on the iPhone? They're halfway to iPad models.

The low-end version of the iPad goes fur under $500, about where the iPhone started, and comes with WiFi, which most hospitals and clinics have. The iPhone comes down to $200 with a phone carrier subsidy, and the iPad can be similarly subsidized by an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) company so it's practically free.

The initial chip memory capacity is "just" 16 Gigabytes, but that's enough for lots of great stuff. You can collect videos about a patient's condition and treatment, then show them while you point out things with the stylus. A 16 Gigabyte capacity means there is plenty of room for a patient's current chart, including all their imaging tests.

You can put a full day's work in there and give one to every doctor. Or you can load charts remotely from the nursing station as each patient is admitted, and keep one in each exam room. At these prices you can do both -- one per doctor, one per exam room. My own internist is in a two-doc shop with four rooms, so for just $3,000 they're outfitted.

Quite simply, this device transforms medical practice and delivers a solid, easy-to-follow upgrade path directly from paper. Put security on the clinic's WiFi (you probably have that already) and HIPAA is happy. A little VOIP and pager software and you can follow the staff wherever they go, which is one reason WiFi is so cool in a hospital setting to begin with.

You can interface this with either an in-house EMR system or a SaaS system -- just run a small clinic's signals directly through a router at the nurse's station.

I can't see a thing wrong with it. It's cheap, it's easy to use, it's got all the power and connectivity you want, and it looks pretty cool too.

How bad do you want one? [poll=32]

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, Hardware, Health, iPhone, Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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  • except all medical insudtries need professional softwares that are WIN only

    My friend is a Dr and looking for tablet just weeks ago. all essential softwares are windows only. Medisoft, soapware, etc, etc

    and they need handwriting fast, rather than a big virtual keyboard needs two hand to operate at decent speed.

    there is no chance this can work for them.
    • If they can figure out how to load Linux on it

      then it'll take off in the medical field like a wildfire.

      NOBODY uses Windoze medical software because we're talking life and death here.

      Hospitals are full of enough viruses that they don't need patients dying because their medical equipment has them!!

      Thats why real hospitals with a good track record all use Linux!
      Ron Bergundy
      • Citation please...

        <i>"Thats why real hospitals with a good track record all use Linux!"</i>

        Please if this is the case, there should be some documentation with credible verifiable sources.
        • We still use VAXes!

          A lot of big hospitals still use VMS on Alpha or Unix. We tried for years to get macs to work with the DEC function keys and they just never did function (Function keys on the macbook are a joke). Maybe this virtual keyboard will be better - but I doubt it.
          • Function keys?

            If you could not get DEC style function keys to work on a mac, you just
            didn't try very hard. Numerous terminal apps with full terminal key
            support exits, including PowerTerm and many others. Talk about joke,
            sorry, but that is a really lame reason to pass on a platform.
      • Unbelivable!

        One of the leading hospitals is Los Angeles uses
        Windows for ALL their computing needs on the front
        end, where the doctors and staff are.

        I even noticed the respirators running on Embedded
    • That's not true

      There are both SaaS and Linux EMR systems available, and Mac clients often interface with Windows servers. In fact, the spec sheet I linked includes the Windows requirements for the unit.
  • My doctors office already did this

    with PC's running Vista (Fujitsu tablets of some sort)
    They don't use the touch screens much, preferring the keyboard to enter information, but they do sign everything on screen with a stylus.
    Pretty cool, and they say it has been rock solid.
    But I suppose some feel they have to wait and wait and wait for Apple to 'invent' the solution.
    • Exactly, my doctor already has a better device for the job. nt

  • "Practically free"

    Dana, I like most of your writing, but please stop the "subsidized" and "practically free" nonsense. You pay for the device via blended payments. One part is for the service and the other part is for the HW. Just because it is not listed on the invoice, does not mean it is not there. How do you think the providers set the price?:

    Part one: Amortize the HW: $XX
    Part two: Access/service fee: $YY
    Total: $ZZ

    You are generally quite objective and balanced in your writing. Please do not keep feeding your readers the carrier "lies". You are doing us all a disservice. The sooner we manage to split the HW from the service, the better off we will be. Then the carriers can compete on the quality of their network and service, instead of locking you in with a shiny new toy, supposedly "practically free".
    • The customer's point of view

      The customer's point of view is very important, and I'm not going to stop reporting it just because it's uncomfortable.

      The "gadget price point" of the Apple iPad is similar to that of the iPhone, thus it can be subject to similar subsidization. That's all I said. And it's true.
  • RE: Medicine is the Apple iPad sweet spot

    Stop dreaming; the IPad is NOT a commercial device and never will be. I agree that tablets will become more ubiquitousin the medical community, but the vast majority will end up using Win7 tablets, because they are REAL computing platforms which can quickly interface with networked database applications

    The IPad is little more than a toy, and will never see widespread use in the medical community.
  • RE: Medicine is the Apple iPad sweet spot

    With the iPhone and iPod Touch around, this device is pointless.
  • Want a thing wrong ? I give you one

    Doctors and nurses need software. You can find
    medical software for Mac ok, but with the
    closed model for iPhone software that is
    reproduced with the iPad, you must have every
    single piece of software go through Apple
    acceptance/validation process, which means
    that n the end you will have zero medical
    software for the iPad

    A second one I just thought of, medical record
    system need strong user authentication, medical
    card readers... etc, you cannot have this for
    the iPad the only extension mechanism if though
    the use of a proprietary plug.
    • I don't see the problem

      There are already iPhone clients for Windows EMR systems out there. The conversion to the iPad is straightforward. And the iPad includes a USB plug.
      • didn't see the USB plug

        in the spec. The is a proprietary plug to connect
        the device to the pc ( to synchronise with itunes
        ) but not to connect devices to the pad.
        • Wrong

          The 30 pin connector is a proprietary docking connector that includes
          many signal lines, including USB. That is how the keyboard docking
          station works. It is merely a USB keyboard built in to the dock, which
          then connects to the pad via the 30 pin connector.
  • Seriously...has everyone lost their minds or been paid by Jobs?

    The thing is a waste. But I can't go 3 clicks on the
    internet without finding somebody trying to justify it.
    Now yea I knew people would do this regardless but I
    expected the thing to be a bit better than this. I didn't
    think anyone would go to the point of trying to defend
    this one but I guess The Force is strong in Jobs.
  • yeah..right

    Can this iHype can be networked and run any meaningfull app?....
    Haven't M$ tried this with tablets and failed a few years ago?
    Linux Geek
    • Actually...

      Most physician offices that have implemented EMR's use Fujitsu tablets running XP. Get a clue before you comment.