The iPad's Dirty Little Healthcare Secret

Apple and its iProducts were definitely on my mind the other day. First, I stopped by my local Apple store to put in some training for my turn behind the HIMSS Social Media Center’s Genius Bar – an hour-long session offered Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday that will give attendees the opportunity to talk with experienced users of social media about strategies and tactics. (I’ll make a wager right now that the most popular question I and the other geniuses get will be “How do I demonstrate ROI on my social media efforts? I know the answer, but you’ll have to make an appointment with myself, John Lynn or Shahid Shah to find out!)

Actually, I was at the store to get my phone freshened up in anticipation of the texting, calling and social media-ing I’ll be doing from the HIMSS show floor. As I sat waiting for my genius to help me, surrounded by products, I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with Lee Farabaugh, Director of User Experience at PointClear Solutions, about user design in electronic medical records and other healthcare IT systems.

“I have this joke,” she told me. “I always think that at some point, any user experience discussion about healthcare is going to be distilled down to an Apple product. At some point, someone will say iPad, iPhone, iPod. You can sit in the room for 10 minutes or 2 hours and someone will say it.”

It’s pretty true when you think about it. I’ll definitely be conscious of it while I’m at HIMSS next week.

Later that day, I came across a blog by Chris Joyce, Director of Healthcare Solutions Engineering at Bottomline Technologies, that turned my impression of the iPad’s relevance in a clinical setting on its head. His is an interesting read, in that he tries to tell it like it is with regard to why the iPad may not be living up to all the clinical hype blogs like this one would have you believe. He lists a number of shortcomings, based on his conversations with providers who have tried using it in a clinical setting. The blog gets even more interesting as you scroll through reader comments, many from members of the cult of Apple.

Joyce’s blog coincides with other recent articles I’ve come across about the iPad and why it may be some time before the clinical community embraces it wholeheartedly. Whether it’s design-oriented, security concerns, or a Windows bias, everyone has an opinion on this popular product. What do you think? Does the iPad have what it takes to become a healthcare game-changer? Or is its dirty little secret that it won’t ultimately live up to the hype?

Jennifer Dennard is Social Marketing Director for Atlanta-based Billian's HealthDATA, Porter Research and HITR.com. Connect with her on Twitter @SmyrnaGirl.