E-book Revolution Changes, Challenges Healthcare

Scott Mace, May 22, 2012

If you've flown lately, you've seen them everywhere: e-books, running on Kindles, on iPads, on any number of tablet devices. Get ready to see them a lot in healthcare too.

Prompted by an announcement that yet another standard desk reference had been released in e-book form, I wonder if we've reached a tipping point yet where the standard nurse or doctor's desk reference on paper has gone the way of the telephone book.  I normally recycle these phone company dinosaurs as soon as they land on my doorstep.

Think of the upside. E-books are fully indexed. Any occurrence of a word is searchable with a touch. Paper-based indexing systems just can't compete.

Publishers can update e-books as often as necessary. Paper-based desk reference books are still updated at least (and often, at most) once a year.

But e-books aren't free. In fact, according to one medical librarian I talked with recently, they can cost more per copy than the individual paper editions of the same book, particularly when purchased by an institution and not by an individual.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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