Healthcare: To iPad or Not to iPad

The mobihealthnews blog posted an infograph titled “Sizing Up the iPad for Healthcare” a while back. The data shows that 60% of physicians plan to either buy an iPad, were interested in learning more about the device or bought one when it came out.

There is no doubt that the iPad is an attractive device for just about any healthcare setting. And that includes a medical office.

In our medical practice, we’ve had mixed reviews with the iPad. It appeared to be very promising when we first started testing it. But my doc’s report a few problems with it. For example, they complain that connecting to our EMR via the remote desktop program (RDP) isn’t as easy. They also report a lot of lag and poor response.

I know these problems may or may not be the iPad’s fault. It could be a bandwidth issue or the RDP software we’re using, for example.

My personal opinion is that the iPad is not made as a content creation device. And by content, I mean typing. Sure, you can type until your heart is content on it. It does have an onscreen keyboard. But for those that are used to typing with all 10 fingers, the iPad hinders the process because one can’t rest one’s fingers on the screen. That means you have to resort to “pecking” at the keys.

That is why I think when it comes to charting, the jury is still out. When you consider that at times, the device (or the software) lags, typing takes getting used to, and there is really no easy way to prop-up the device, I believe it is a bit cumbersome to use in a healthcare setting. To complete one or two charts at the end of the day lying on your bed before going to sleep, great. But completing 30 charts, not so great.

The iPad is great to consume content. If you just want to look at something, the iPad is perfect for that. It boots up fast, the software is snappy and connects to the Internet faster than a laptop; not to mention, everything looks pretty on it. Consequently, it does well for quickly checking labs, retrieving information from the EMR like a patient’s last weight or jumping online quickly.

In a recent Business Insider survey, they found that the most popular activity on the iPad is web browsing, followed by email and other communications.

There is no doubt that the iPad hardware is where it needs to be. It is solid and reliable on things like battery life for example. But I’m less optimistic on the continue growth of the iPad in the medical field. Not because I don’t think it is a good device for health professional, but because I don’t think healthcare software is compelling enough on the iPad to really make the device an all encompassing health care mobile device. Not until, of course, healthcare software vendors start to develop specifically for the iPad.

I know there are people out there that are using the iPad exclusively in their office and they wouldn’t have it any other way. What is your experience and what are your thoughts?

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5 thoughts on “Healthcare: To iPad or Not to iPad”

  1. It’s 16 months after you wrote this blog, and I just went live in the last month. All my providers are using ipads to access our EMR via a Citrix App. I couldn’t survive without my keyboard/case, but my partners are happily hunting and pecking. The ipad battery lasts thru our long days in the office, and the price kept us way under budget! I love my EMR. I love my ipad. I love my EMR on my ipad.

    1. Interesting. Well, 16months is a log time in tech. Perhaps your EMR has made improvements to the interface to make it easier to work with.

      Adding a keyboard does help.

      I know of a couple of docs that use it more for patient education or patient engagement than actual charting. Which is also a cool way to use it.

      We have desktops in every single room. And the desktops have touch monitors. Perhaps that is another reason why the iPad didn’t catch on.


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