Apple’s iPad, which has been available for about a month and has shipped a million units, is getting great reviews among healthcare professionals. They cite the light weight, large, responsive touchscreen, bright, hi-resolution screen, and 10-hour battery life as the key advantages over other portable hardware options. The screen is great for reading text, and studying medical images, and the size is comfortable to use while standing up in a hospital room. Additionally, it fits nicely in a labcoat pocket. See a full review at iMedicalApps.com.
PCWorld has an article about a real-world test in progress. The Kaweah Delta Health Care District is using a Citrix solution to make the iPad a Virtual Desktop for their existing data systems. The same technology enables the use of iPads, iPhones, iPod Touches, and many other devices to access the existing IT infrastructure for patient data, test results, information resources, and e-prescribing.
While that solution is basically using the iPad as a thin terminal to access existing software, Dr. Chrono is a native App that runs right on the iPad. Billed as the first iPad EMR App, it gives a healthcare professional access to vital records, data, results and history in a very efficient, easy-to-use manner. A detailed review, and screenshots can be seen here.
While all of this seems like great tech toys for healthcare professionals, there is some opportunity for patients to use the iPad as well. meridianEMR has introduced an iPad App for patient check-in. Instead of filling out paper forms, which in turn need to be entered into a database by a staff member, patients will be able to enter their data directly with an iPad, in the reception area. The software establishes a HIPAA-compliant secure link to the office network. This will save time, and increase accuracy.
Analysts have predicted that better IT in healthcare could save billions of dollars, and those savings will be needed to avoid being overwhelmed by healthcare costs in the future. It is possible that the iPad is just the beginning of a new wave of advanced technologies that revolutionize healthcare IT, and how we interact with it. There will certainly be more hardware vendors and software providers jumping into the fray to push technology, speed, and efficiency to new levels. Hopefully the competition will result in lower costs and better patient care.