Will the iPad Revolutionize Healthcare?

Cheryl Clark, January 29, 2010

Apple's announcement of the iPad has been big news this week. The new technology has had health officials wondering: How will the iPad be used in a physician's practice, clinic or acute care setting? Could it really revolutionize care? Will it allow patients to communicate better with their providers through user-friendly pictures easily visible on the screen?

We asked health leaders to weigh in on the iPad, based on the rumor and the hype, and what is known about the device so far. Their consensus? Many things are possible, but maybe not just yet.

John David Halamka, MD
Chief information officer
Harvard Medical School
Emergency room physician
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

"Several folks have asked - will the iPad revolutionize healthcare?

"The answer is yes and no.

"My ideal clinical device is:

  • Less than a pound and fits in white coat pocket
  • Has a battery life of 8-12 hours (a full shift)
  • Can be dropped without major damage
  • Has a built-in full keyboard, voice recognition or very robust touch screen input
  • Provides a platform for a variety of healthcare applications hosted on the device or in the cloud"

"Netbooks and laptops are too heavy, too large, and do not meet my battery life requirements. The iPhone is too small for reliable data entry. The Kindle is a great device, but not a flexible application platform.

"The iPad comes closer to my requirements than other devices on the market.

"However, the ideal clinical device would include a camera for clinical photography and video teleconferencing. Entering data via the touch screen with gloved hands may be challenging on a capacitance touch screen. Holding the iPad with one hand means hunt and peck typing with the remaining hand.

"The device is a bit large for a white coat pocket, may be hard to disinfect, and may not be tolerant of dropping onto a hospital floor. I look forward to trying one to validate these assumptions. My general impression is that it is not perfect for healthcare, but it is closer than other devices I've tried so far.

"It will definitely be worth a pilot."

Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon