iPad+Hospitals=gimmick?

Reading yesterday about the 500 Graduate doctors, nurses and advanced practice nurses who will receive iPads got me to thinking whether this is is really a good idea. No doubt that iPads are the must-have device for surfing the internet whilst watching TV, training soldiers to shoot guns or babysitting toddlers, however is this the best choice of device in a hospital setting?

I suppose the answer is to determine how they will be used. In the pharmaceutical and medical industry, I can see a need for iPad (or other tablet) – useful for demonstrating and engaging on an exhibition booth, or apps for educating physicians and medical reference (which I understand will be partly what the device will be used for here).

What I am not so sure about is using the iPad during interactions with patients. Are you able to sterilise an iPad? What about the security element? iPads are sexy – are they not likely to be stolen in high quantities?

Ok, So I know that this is not the first time that the idea of using iPads in a hospital setting has been tried, but why iPad over other solutions? There are a number of (primarily windows-based) tablet PCs that are marketed to the hospital community, and after thinking about this for a while, I can only think that the low pricepoint compared with other tablet PCs ($400 vs $2000) combats the high desirability profile of the device (and the high likelihood of it being stolen) – you could replace it 4-times over – and add that to the networked nature of the system they likely have in place (all data held on hospital server, no no patient data on the device itself).

Turns out that an iPad, or maybe in the future an Android-based tablet device in the hospital setting may not be such a bad idea after all…

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4 Responses to “iPad+Hospitals=gimmick?”


  1. 1 Maureen Hall July 30, 2010 at 23:28

    Gimmick or not, Paul, one thing is clear… the iPad has engaged a group of healthcare professionals who were once more likely than not to resist information technology in the clinical space. The appeal of the iPad has opened a door that has been shut for way too long.
    Maureen Hall
    enjoy: http://maureenhall.wordpress.com
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  2. 2 medigital July 30, 2010 at 23:42

    Thanks for the comment Maureen

    I completely agree, and it would be interesting to see how successful this pilot is (and how many iPads are stolen/lost/broken etc).

  3. 3 Jimmy Weeks August 2, 2010 at 12:57

    The iPad sure has gained quite a bit of traction in a short amount of time and yes, the MDs seem to be quite enamored with many of the apps. As a consumer, I like using it to browse the internet, view photos and videos. As a CIO who has to be concerned with how it serves the enterprise, that is a different story.

    We’re still assessing how best to configure the device for use by MDs who will want to access everything from the EMR to PACS. The ability to encrypt the device, enforce strong passwords and replicate the management capabilities we now have on BES devices is a work in process.

    We’re anxious for multi-device charging stations that can be placed on the patient care areas. A charging station that is capable of hosting multiple iPads and physically secure them from finding new homes.

    The team in Infection Control is anxious to understand what Apple recommends for cleaning the device and sealing the open ports and buttons around the sides. We have been searching for a bumper case that not only protects the devices from falls, but also seals the open ports.

    No doubt we’ll also be looking to integrate the iPad in to our RFID network for tracking and alerting if the deice should wander in to areas it should not. Like the laundry bin or exiting the institution.

    Our Hospitalists and House Staff utilize Dragon for dictating their documentation. Currently they are using Netbooks and have expressed interest in the pending HP Slate. If the postings I see come to pass, the Slate appears to be geared more toward the enterprise than the iPad. Time will tell.

    Does anyone know if Apple has a healthcare division? Would be quite helpful to have a go-to group for many of the questions above.


  1. 1 Keeping up with the Jobses « Medigital Trackback on September 23, 2010 at 11:25

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About me

Hi, my name is Paul Jacobs and I write the Medigital blog, as well as being the Director, Digital Strategy at Sonic Boom, a digital and social agency. I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about the digital domain in pharma and medical communications/education.
Please note that opinions expressed in this blog are my very own and do not necessarily reflect those my employer, family or pets. Twitter: @PJ_Medigital
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