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iPad being marketed to hospitals?

updated 01:30 pm EST, Mon February 1, 2010

Price, easy cleaning may be major incentives

Apple is currenly trying to market the iPad to hospital buyers, accounts suggest. Officials from the tech company have allegedly visited a Los Angeles hospital in recent weeks, with some form of marketing agenda in tow. The connection to the iPad is only speculative, but may be likely given the coincidence of the visits with the iPad announcement, and the nature of hospital computing.

Tablets are considered ideal for nurses, doctors and pharmacists for several reasons, such as the ability to work charts and look up medical information without retreating to a nearby office. They are also said to be hand-portable, easy to disinfect, and harder to break than a notebook, even if most tablets lack a lid. Many hospitals are also attempting to switch over to paperless records, effectively mandating computers within quick reach.

The iPad's sales advantage may be price, rather than any technical superiority. Whereas the cheapest iPad will cost $499 at retail, one tablet under consideration by HMO Kaiser Permanente -- and already in use at UC Davis -- is selling for over $2,000 per unit. Corporations could lower their expenses even further by placing bulk iPad orders.

Factors that may deter short-term adoption revolve around apps. No customized medical software has yet been announced for the iPad, which could limit initial functionality to that made possible by iPhone apps. Such titles would still be restricted by the iPhone OS, which is incapable of multitasking, or Mac- and Windows-like file management. Distribution is moreover controlled through the App Store, which could make it difficult or impossible to ensure all iPads are using up-to-date code.

by MacNN Staff



  1. prl99

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I use the 32-bit version of Osirix on my iMac to view x-ray and CT scan data. The 64-bit version costs money and requires multiple CPUs/cores to be able to combine scans into 3D images. OsiriX has a version for the iPhone that costs $20. I could see the iPad producing more easily viewed scans than an iPhone. This is just one of the existing medical applications already available that should see wider use in hospitals and doctor's offices.

  1. Bobfozz

    Joined: Dec 1969



    echoing "prl99" comments is what this iPad can do as well as entertain, and very cost effective. The nut case gear heads are all too often about "themselves." Leaving out a camera reduces the cost. Let mischievous people use their iPhone if they have to.

    I think we are seeing a tip of the iceberg here. As it grows, Apple will add more--hopefully not to the point where it becomes a complicated pain in the a** like computers (desktop and laptop).

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'm sure all the hospital IT managers

    are waiting to implement some form of Windows tablet even if they have to pay more for it. They'd never try to wedge some Apple device into all their other legacy Windows software. I'm not sure Apple will be able to win this one unless some people from the hospital board of directors are willing to go to IT and just tell them to make it work. The comfortable IT people would never bother to spend the time on their own to make the iPad work if they could just buy the touch-screen HP Slate running Windows 7 and say they've easily got a working solution for a tablet. IT will never leave the world of Windows. It's their whole livelihood at stake.

  1. SwissMac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Enterprises don't need the App Store

    Don't forget the page on the iPad/iPhone developer application pages that offers Enterprises with more than 500 employees the opportunity to distribute their apps internally without needing the App Store... most hospitals would surely come into this category?

  1. sribe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    there's a chance here...

    To "Constable Odo":

    Actually, Windows-based tables have been around for a long time and many hospitals have already tried them--and drs & nurses have largely rejected them because they are too clumsy to use effectively. How much of this is Windows & how much is typically-horrible medical records software, I can't say. So these failures & dissatisfaction open a window of opportunity for Apple, and I know for a fact that both Drs & IT folk are excited about the possibilities.

    However, your point about getting the table working in current environments is correct. It is first a huge challenge just to get vendors to support anything other than Windows. And beyond that, vendors who have been producing Windows software with awful barely-usable user interfaces can hardly be expected to turn around and produce good iPad software.

    If anything happens in this space, it will almost surely be pushed by smaller developers working with innovative drs...

  1. kgav

    Joined: Dec 1969



    The iPad has tremendous potential in the medical field. Viewing X-Rays, CT Scans and MRIs all rapidly and while on the move throughout the hospital. Getting realtime push data on patients is already available to iPhone. Applications such as AirStrip and countless other medical software and hardware companies are all rapidly deploying iPhone related apps or are busy developing them.

    In critical situations you want simplicity and reliability, two qualities synonymous with Apple's products. Linux/Android and Windows do not have track record of processing those two critical qualities in the current Tablet PC. Apple designed a Multi-Touch user interface separate from a desktop user interface. Form and function are of the highest priority for Apple not the bottom-line or getting it out quick and dirty.

    The Tablet PC has been around since 2001 and fail to dominate this market. The flaws of the Tablet PC in 2001 are virtually the same as the flaws of the tablet PC today. Without a from the ground up UI designed for Tablet computing and touch based interface the Tablet PC will always pale in comparison to Apple's offerings.

  1. cbojanower

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I hope they do it quickly

    My wife works as a Nurse Practitioner at a small oncology clinic, they are at this moment looking for a electronics records solution. She'd love to use an iPad but the office manager is not willing to wait for very long to make the purchase

  1. kgav

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hospitals are integrating iPhones

    If hospitals can integrate iPhones the next logical step is the iPad.

    many doctors are familiar with the iPhone, a jump to the iPad in the Hospital makes perfect sense.

  1. Rezzz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Hospitals and clinics... someday

    What ended up happening is that kiosks with pint-sized PCs were installed in every hospital room, every triage room, every nursing station and every damned place else you look. In essence, tablet PCs were so woeful that instead of attaching a device to an individual, they put them ... everywhere.

    One day we may see doctors interfacing with imaging software (Imageon, etc) on a tablet. We may see a triage nurse listing medical allergies on patient intake (Cerner, Epic). I just don't think it will be very soon.

    However, my local hospital system of some 25K+ employees now have access to all their Exchange information using the iPhone. So, dreams really do come true.

  1. brentrn

    Joined: Dec 1969


    iPod Touch still better for a floor nurse

    While the iPad could be a great way to enter data for electronic health records its size will keep it from being portable enough for a floor nurse. Nurses cannot be expected to carry around an object that big. An iPod Touch fits in a scrub pocket and works well for retrieving reference data.

    Currently nurses often have to wheel around cumbersome computer stands to enter data. An iPad would a lot handier even if it has to locked down to something to prevent theft.

    I can imagine lots of neat uses for nurses from rounds reports, patient sign off, and even patient education readings. The iPad will open lots of new uses if hospitals are willing to spend the money, and developers are willing to think how to make a nurse's life easier.

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