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iPad missing high-priority features for healthcare use?

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. chas_m



    Nonsense story

    1. No actual objection raised by anyone at all except a wish for future software (easily rectified if demand is sufficient)

    2. iPhone EXTREMELY popular in the healthcare sector due to plethora of various medical-market apps, 100% of which should run on the iPad on Day One.

    3. The fact that the App Store doesn't have something Windows or Mac have TODAY -- two *months* before the first iPad ships -- doesn't really mean much of anything. Presumably this survey was to *find out* what physicians and other healthcare workers would like to see -- again, if demand is sufficient, they will build it. Capitalism -- look it up sometime.

    In summary, this is again another example of needless (and potentially criminal) speculation and fearmongering. MacNN, you are better than this. Get a news editor who has a functioning BS detector and stop running EVERY press release you get please, lest you find yourself in the middle of a news story about how YOU ran obviously false items as part of a stock-manipuation scheme.

  1. Constable Odo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    With Apple's means

    if they really wanted to, they could build a health care specific device that has everything that is needed. Would it really be impractical for Apple to create some sort of business division that could build devices for different industry uses. It seems that Apple would have the capital to design and sell such products. Just like that "EasyPay Touch" device they're using in their retail stores:

    Or maybe partner with a company such as Axiotron to mod the iPad. It's just that Apple has so much reserve cash that the sky's the limit on what type of devices they'd be capable of building.

    I agree that the authors of these articles are really jumping the gun on a product that hasn't shipped yet. As far as software is concerned, with all the developers on that platform I'd be surprised if there wasn't a flood of apps for the health-care industry on the chance that the iPad could become a popular health-care tool.

    I'm sure Apple already has it's hands filled with working with publishers and obtaining media content which would have much wider appeal to consumers than messing around with the health care industry. One step at a time.

  1. LittleSaint

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Virtual Desktops = killer iPad app

    The goal should not be native "App Store" stuff, but the use of virtual desktop environments to run the app of choice. Citrix's Receiver already runs on the iPhone, and I'm sure VMware is going to follow suit. Most EMR applications are designed for a Citrix envirnment anyway. Running them under Receiver should be a no brainer. People have already shown Windows 7 running on the iPad under Citrix.

  1. edcoye

    Joined: Dec 1969



    There is a great demo (actual software if you have the EHR) of Allscripts in the App Store NOW. It will work on iPad as well but I bet they will have another version to take advantage of the size. With that and Citrix, it is a great device. Most other tablets are not utilizing any of the hardware mentioned above. For what is needed today for EHR, the iPad fits the need.

  1. scottrussell

    Joined: Dec 1969


    EHR available

    It's incorrect to say that "the current App Store offerings do not include comprehensive software for managing electronic medical records".

    Both Allscripts and iChart are currently available for the iPhone & would work immediately on the iPad. Allscripts isn't comprehensive (yet), but iChart is. Of course, both would be ripe for upgrading to take advantage of the iPad's larger screen. I'm pretty excited about the prospects.

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969


    BS story

    Lots of doctors already use iPhone. There are many important medical apps on the iPhone that will also work on the iPad.

  1. dochsieh

    Joined: Dec 1969



    My office runs on terminal services and I already have Winadmin for my iphone. I plan on getting an iPad as soon as it is avalable and trying out WinAdmin to access my terminal server. My EMR is very mouse intensive, so the touch interface is actually more appropriate than a laptop. I tried a PC Slate, but I had WIFI connectivity issues despite changing several brands of wifi access points. I recently ditched all the PCs in my office, and replaced them with 40 Mac Mini's and iMacs. Much happier now.

  1. starwarrior

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Disappearing Professions

    Managing electronic medical records (EMRs) systems are a mess. Fixing them was once a part of the Obama make medicine less costly promise. The iPad may well be the device for doing this. There may well be more nurses than book keepers at your doctors office in the future. Touch in symptoms, compare to the national database of diseases with similar symptoms and order treatment by touch. No need for doctor visits then. O the joy.

  1. Raman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    BS Demographic Breakdown

    Health IT Professional: 29% (52)
    Physician: 28% (50)
    Nurse: 16% (29)

    Riiiight.. The guy eating donuts, surfing p*** in the basement office is going to tell you what me and my nurses need to do our job. Docs and nurses (the people that actually are tasked with making a patient healthy) should make up 90% + of the demographic.

    If you work in a sizeable company using tools your IT guy thinks you need then you'll understand. If you work in a small graphics shop and get to buy the latest PowerMac each year then you won't.

  1. Raman

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Re: The comment about iChart - are you serious? Look at the price and read the reviews. Try it - oh wait - you have to pay $140 to try it.

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