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Why The iPad Is Not Ready For Prime Time in Healthcare

First off, I need to address those who think they’re being brilliantly funny comparing Apple’s new product name to a feminine hygiene product – making comments like “Does it come with wings?” and “It’s light and easy to use, but can you swim with it?” (these are the cleaner comments I’ve seen), or calling for the next generation ITampon.

Since when did the word “Pad” become unusable in public discourse? And where were these folks when IBM came out with their Think Pad? It’s stupid, 12-year old funny and just plain dumb. Grow up, ladies and gents.

Now, on to more serious matters.

Is the IPad, as some are suggesting, the next big thing in Medicine? Dana Blakenhorn at ZDNet thinks so, calling medicine the IPad’s “Sweet Spot”-

It’s what your doctor has been dreaming of ever ince the PC revolution began. 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.

First of all, Dana, that script ain’t waiting at the front desk – it’s already in the pharmacist’s inbox. And my nurse isn’t the one swiping the credit card – my secretary is. But, more importantly, is Dana right?

Is the IPad what I’ve been dreaming of?

Let’s see – I already run my EMR on my PC at work and my Macbook at home, where I can multitask to my heart’s content, and don’t have to re-login to my EMR every time I move back and forth from that app to, say, my calendar, the web or my e-mail. Do I really want a device that does not multitask? Probably not.

You’re thinking it’s the apps, right? Lots of separate cool apps, all of which do really neat things like let me read EKGs or keep lists of patients or look up drug interactions. None of which talk or import data to one another and all of which I need to move back and forth between. Those apps?

Well, let’s see…My EMR looks up pharmacies and drug interactions, lets me access Up-to-Date from within my patient’s record, pulls in lab results from 3 different laboratory vendors and radiology reports from any of our offices and allows my patient to access these herself online. If she’s admitted to the hospital, I can access that chart through a different app, and the discharge summary and op notes make it into my office EMR. That’s one hell of an app, I’d say. Can’t think of too much more I need.

As for games and videos, I guess there’s always lunchtime, but I generally use that time to return phone calls, so…nope.

But wait – What if the IPad were to let me take a photo of say, a skin lesion, and plop it right into my patient’s chart – how cool would that be? Or I could Skype a patient and provide real time care over the internet – now we’re on the 21st Century! Oops, I forgot. No camera on the Ipad…

Maybe it’s the AT&T 3G network you’re thinking about. The one that drops my IPhone calls at least half the time? That 3G network? Not to mention I can’t access it anyway from my office, where the hospital’s concrete walls render even the best of cellphones powerless.

Ok, forget 3G. Maybe the IT guys at work will put in a router for me. That would be nice. Then, instead of being tied to my desk, I could go from room to room with my Ipad. But of course, I’ll need a way to keep the device clean. After all, Staph Aureus is ubiquitous, and has been found on hospital keyboards. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can use any of the current cleaners I have on the Ipad. That’s a problem.

The Real Question

It seems to me that the real question is not “Is Healthcare ready for the Ipad” but “Is the Ipad ready for Healthcare?” And the answer, sadly, is not just yet.

I’ll just have to keep on dreaming…
___________________________________________ More on the Ipad and Healthcare from around the Web

  • Dr Anonymous gives his thoughts on the Ipad – It’s the software, stupid.
  • John Halemka weighs in with some thoughtful questions about the Ipad’s suitability for patient care, but concludes it is “definitely worth a pilot”.
  • MobiHealth News takes the pulse of the Healthcare industry on the Ipad – Bottom line – not just yet.
  • IMedicalApps shows one place in healthcare where the Ipad shines – Anatomy Imaging
  • Brandon Glenn at Medcity does a great job summarizing the Ipad’s limitations
  • Chris Paton at the Health Informatics Forum likes the Ipad for docs – the comments from software developers are well worth a read if you want to see what the future for the Ipad may hold
  • Steve Woodruff , writing at Kevin Md, thinks the IPad will be a game changer in Healthcare. The operative word, in my opinion, is “will”.
  • Mike Kirkwood thinks a few EMR vendors, most notable EPIC (the one I use) are poised to enter the Iphone/IPad world. Now that would be very nice….

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog that Ate Manhattan*

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One Response to “Why The iPad Is Not Ready For Prime Time in Healthcare”

  1. Mike Russo says:

    How about your thoughts on the ipad running a cloud based emr? I believe this will simply require the ability to browse the internet, correct?

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