updated 05:55 pm EST, Fri February 5, 2010
Survey indicates strong demand for tablets
The healthcare industry has shown strong interest in tablet computers, however the iPad may be missing several important features requested by physicians, according to a Software Advice survey. Over half of respondents claimed they were very likely or somewhat likely to purchase a tablet sometime in the coming year.
Physicians participating in the survey indicated a desire to use the tablets for lab orders, prescription drug reference, notes, clinical decision support, e-prescribing, medical image viewing, and e-mail, among other tasks. Ease-of-use topped the list of reasons for purchasing a tablet, with software and durability following close behind.
The iPad's iPhone operating system may prove strong in the ease-of-use category. Physicians have noted, however, that the current App Store offerings do not include comprehensive software for managing electronic medical records (EMRs). The additional capabilities of the iPad may attract developers to create such a utility in the future, although this remains to be seen. Windows-based machines, or tablet-converted MacBooks, currently offer a wider selection of advanced software titles for the healthcare industry.
Resistance to dust and liquids was considered the second-highest hardware spec requested by the surveyed individuals. Although third-party companies have already started creating iPad accessories before the device has shipped, the tablet does not offer any rugged protection in its native form. The iPad also lacks several other important features such as fingerprint access, barcode scanning, an integrated camera and an RFID reader.
"Shoehorning a desktop OS into a tablet does NOT work. This has been the approach of Microsoft and hence no uptake," said one of the respondents. "A modal interface like the iPhone is more suitable to touchscreen use and makes more sense in this setting."
As the iPad has yet to arrive on the market, it is unclear how well it will perform against the variety of alternative products also set for release in 2010. Analysts have placed wide forecasts for the device, with many expecting several million units in 2010 and up to 10 million by the end of 2011.