Rethinking Healthcare

The iPad fad in health IT

The iPad fad in health IT

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Excitement among doctors over the Apple iPad has yet to die down, benefiting the entire health IT space.

Ever since the iPad's introduction in January doctors have been anxious to get their hands on it.

Nearly a year later the excitement has yet to die down. The iPad fever may do more to spur the market for Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) than the $19.2 billion in sweet stimulus cash approved in 2009.

A survey in February showed 20% of doctors anxious to get an iPad, with radiologists among the specialists most interested.

Because of privacy and security concerns, however, Apple is not the only winner in the iPad market. Companies like Citrix and WYSE are racking up sales by supporting both the iPad and the HIPAA requirements. These systems let doctors browse health records on the mobile device without storing them there.

Excitement over iPad has also helped reduce fear of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). This has helped companies like ClearPractice, which produces an EMR called Nimble designed for the iPad. Like other products in the space, the iPad acts only as a client device. Records are stored in a cloud, under virtual lock-and-key.

In addition to helping server vendors and EMR vendors, the iPad has also increased interest in WiFi. Clinics using the iPad seem most anxious to use wireless networking, as opposed to the wires connecting Windows clients to the wall.

Why the excitement? Doctors say the iPad has the size and weight of a paper chart, but it's more flexible, letting them instantly see x-rays, EKGs or other test results as soon as those files become available. This increases productivity, especially in emergency rooms.

Many doctors are also buying iPads in order to interact with patients. Instead of the doctor holding a paper chart close to the chest, they will more likely extend an iPad toward the patient, using the software alongside them.

The question now is whether other tablets, from companies like HP, will draw the same reaction. Windows tablets run the same operating system as most clinical data systems.

But are they cool enough? We should know by next spring.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure