An iPad app for this, an iPad app for that. But vertical-wise, as Apple clearly knows, medicine and healthcare is where iPad’s bright future is at.
We’re not sure we’d go as far as calling the iPad a medical device but judging from the way health apps are sprouting, the idea doesn’t seem far-fetched. From record-keeping to ‘edutainment’, the iPad is a hit with the younger generation of doctors as well as inquisitive patients particularly the kids. Just imagine yourself with the doctor explaining your symptoms using the good old patient chart and you’ll find out why.
It is, however, safe to say that there’s still a lot of work to be done to equip the iPad as the ideal doctor’s instrument, side-by-side with the stethoscope. First of which is that most EMR and EHR apps were designed for PCs and it will take some tweaking before they could display properly on smaller iPad screens. In fact in a recent study, ” 80 percent of physicians surveyed believed that the Apple iPad will be a positive player in health care in the future but that it’s not ready to have an impact on care delivery.”
“What we do know right now is we have leading-edge hardware; we need leading-edge software to complement it,” Gregg Malkary, managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group, told eWEEK.
And with that, here are 5 reasons we think the iPad will be the medical tablet to rule them all.
1. The iPad is not just a laptop replacement. It is Patient Folder/Chart 2.0!
It’s not that the patient chart wasn’t useful but in the presence of high tech hospital devices, push-button adjustable beds and electronically- controlled IV drips, it does look out of place. Being equally handy, the iPad, housing the EMR/EHR app becomes the de-facto device that enables access to the patient’s hospital information.
2. More than EHR & EMR, the iPad enables RPM.
The iPads’ medical place need not just be on clinics and hospitals only, in fact, a search of iTunes for remote patient monitoring (RPM) will show a steadily growing list of apps (eg. Airstrip) that allows doctors to monitor patients without being face to face with them especially for chronic diseases. At a projected 3 million users of RPM by 2016, it is something that iPad app developers cannot ignore
3. The magic sauce that are iOS apps.
We’re not discounting Android devices. In fact, we love apps that can work on both type of devices. However, at this point, there’s no use arguing that the Apple App Store is quite ahead of the Android Market. Can Android catch up? Probably. But until then, we will be monitoring iTunes for the most innovative of medical and healthcare apps.
4. Regarding security, an iPad still leads paper.
Before you go all out talking ‘hacking data’, you might want to check out a fairly recent study about the leading causes of data theft. [Go ahead. Pause for 5 minutes] Now, instead of patient charts lying around and fax results being picked-up and read by even someone just present or passing by the fax machine when it was transmitted, iPad and other tablet devices prompts for passwords to start. Add secure cloud storage and you make the thief re-consider his bad intentions.
5. Not just an educational tool, the iPad is an interpersonal device, too.
If the goal to improving healthcare is better doctor-patient relationship, then neither stethoscope nor a PC gets you closely aligned than a tablet device. Sorry, PC. It is for this reason that iPads can be a great instrument for doctors to be able to share with the patient more than just text information but even a carefully created presentation on specific health conditions. For this, we can definitely understand why more creative, medical students moonlighting as techies would probably chose pediatrics as their specialization. Well, aside from the fact that they like kids, they’d probably have an easier time bonding once they show them their iPads.