SA Health buys 200 iPads, dismisses Kindle

SA Health buys 200 iPads, dismisses Kindle

Summary: The South Australian Department of Health has bought some 200 Apple iPads and plans to buy more for its 3300 staff after an internal review lauded the security, functionality and return on investment of the devices.


The South Australian Department of Health has bought some 200 Apple iPads and plans to buy more for its 3300 staff after an internal review lauded the security, functionality and return on investment of the devices.

It was recently revealed that a purchasing ban on the devices had been lifted some five months after it was imposed.

A May review by SA Health found that the iPads will pay for themselves within two months, and are secure enough to handle patient and business data.

Initially, however, only executives will receive iPads, while nurses and doctors will need to wait to get their hands on the popular devices until clinical software is developed.

"It hasn't happened yet," SA Health chief information officer David Johnston said. "But clinical [staff] are free to submit useful applications for [peer review]."

Johnston said the former Victorian Brumby Government was wrong to promise hundreds of free iPads to the public without having assessed them.

"The cost of supporting iPads far outweighs the cost of purchase," he said. "You need to work out what applications will run on it before you know if it is suitable."

The iPads passed SA Health reviews, which tested the device's compatibility, security and appropriateness using 10 tablets. They have been cleared for business use to be used mainly as an e-reader, and are expected to be used by clinicians at a later date.

The Amazon Kindle was also tested, but it was shelved after the department found it to lack the processing requirements to adequately handle very large PDF documents.

More than 100 business staff were sent for training to learn how to produce centralised PDF documents that contain hyperlinks to documents created by other team members. Johnston said it saves time and prevents documents from being lost.

Department units can "hire" iPads from the IT department for four years under a centralised procurement model, bought under separate unit budgets.

Johnston said the model allows for IT to retain control of hardware refreshes and device and software management.

"The iPad and its e-readers are very, very cost effective for handling large documents," he said. "Some of our executives can print 600 pages at a meeting."

The iPad's 256-bit advanced encryption standard built into the fourth version of the device's operating system version passed the security tests too.

"Printed paper is the ultimate unsecured document," Johnston said. "Of course it could get better, but it's good."

The most secure method for staff to transfer sensitive documents was found to be a cable and Apple iTunes. All iPads have remote wipe and barring if passwords are incorrectly entered three times.

Topics: Government AU, Health, iPad

Darren Pauli

About Darren Pauli

Darren Pauli has been writing about technology for almost five years, he covers a gamut of news with a special focus on security, keeping readers informed about the world of cyber criminals and the safety measures needed to thwart them.

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  • you would think that ipads are a bit fragile for the hospital environment. Already available are tablet PCs in durable cases able to withstand the tough conditions encountered in a hectic hospital, and able to be safely sterilized. There is also clinical software readily available for PC devices and none for the ipad.
    the ipad is a personal gadget, with simplicity at it's core. yes it has uses but;
    a heavy duty productivity tool, for hectic environments where equipment often gets knocked around and sometimes dropped, it isn't
  • "with simplicity at it's core". I couldn't agree more. It's the simplicity of the iPhones & iPads that has appealed to the masses. Unfortunately the simplicity also makes it a limiting business tool.

    Well said Peter.
  • The IPAD real name should be IFAD.. heavy, needs yet another web contract to maintain it- IPHONE is a good product as are other smart phones - it has most things.
    What is either in my pocket or in my leather or travel bag now is the IPhone and the Kindle - I'm in touch with the world with Iphone, can take my entire library with on holidays, fishing, in the motel, on the train... with Kindle, and can download the latest book release in 60 seconds while the bait is in the water and fishing is 'slow' - so I become a more patient fisherman and less bored with the Kindle me beside me at the river bank or in the fishing boat and I will catch more fish... remember those that complain that they dont catch fish, forget the the vary basic principle... and that is, the longer the bait is in the water (compared to others) , the more fish you will catch!!!! So savour the weekends away, postone the retirement if you have been affected by the GFC, or like me, are a divorced, sad (but slowly getting better) and lonely baby boomer, and get out there with your Quintrex 350 Explorer with the 15 HP Yamaha outboard, and the Minn Kota electric motor (ah yeh, the peace and silence of the electric moto while gently trolling around, with the bait in the water, also while you read from , or download a new book to your Kindle and tuck into the goodies in your quaint cane picnic basket - the raspberries and cherries , the jarlsberg cheese and salad roll, maybe chew a few cashew nuts and maybe drink nice a beer, and later eat a piece of that gorgeous olive oil and later sauterne cake you made (with the finely cut orange and lemon rind in that recipe) , as you patiently wait for that redfin in the Campaspe River (after the floods subside) in Elmore, just out of Bendigo in Victoria at Aytons Reserve - what do you think about this life ?
    wind in the willows lover