The iPad and healthcare

By John Halamka
02:28 PM

Several folks have asked - will the iPad revolutionize healthcare?

The answer is Yes and No.

My ideal clinical device is

*Less than a pound and fits in white coat pocket
*Has a battery life of 8-12 hours (a full shift)
*Can be dropped without major damage
*Has a built in full keyboard, voice recognition, or very robust touch screen input
*Provides a platform for a variety of healthcare applications hosted on the device or in the cloud

Netbooks and laptops are too heavy, too large, and do not meet my battery life requirements.

The iPhone is too small for reliable data entry.

The Kindle is a great device but not a flexible application platform.

The iPad comes closer to my requirements than other devices on the market.

However, the ideal clinical device would include a camera for clinical photography and video teleconferencing.

Entering data via the touch screen with gloved hands may be challenging on a capacitance touch screen.

Holding the iPad with one hand means hunt and peck typing with the remaining hand.

The device is a bit large for a white coat pocket, may be hard to disinfect, and may not be tolerant of dropping onto a hospital floor.

I look forward to trying one to validate these assumptions.

My general impression is that it is not perfect for healthcare, but it is closer than other devices I've tried.

It will definitely be worth a pilot.


John Halamka, MD, blogs regularly at Life As a Healthcare CIO.