11 stages of the iPad's history in healthcare

By Michelle McNickle
01:05 PM

The release of the "new iPad," aka the iPad 3, on March 16th, has health IT folks drooling over the tool's increased screen resolution, its iSight camera – complete with full HD 1080p video recording capabilities – and its voice dictation features. 

"I think it’s no secret that the healthcare industry right now is, to some degree, in love with this tablet," said Jennifer Dennard, social marketing director at Billan's HealthDATA/Porter Research/HITR.com. "Sure, there are the naysayers, but at least half the conversations I had at HIMSS with EMR vendors and HIT folks included at least one mention of 'Apple' or 'iPad.'" 

The past year has been eventful for the tech giant, which lost Chairman Steve Jobs to cancer in October 2011, just days before the public release of its iCloud solution for cloud computing. In anticipation of the release of the third-generation iPad, we look back through the device's history in healthcare and the ways physicians, patients, and IT professionals have used it. 

Here are 10 stages of the iPad's brief history in healthcare. 

1. January 2010. In this blog post, authored more than two years ago by BIDMC CIO John Halamka, the iPad's ability to revolutionize the industry was brought into question. According to him, the iPad did come the closest to his predetermined set of requirements for the "ideal clinical device," however, Halamka wrote the device was too large, could be hard to disinfect, and lacked a camera for clinical photography and/or video teleconferencing. "My general impression is that it's not perfect for healthcare, but it is closer than other devices I've tried," he wrote. "It will definitely be worth a pilot.

2. February 2010. In this article, Healthcare IT News Community Editor Kyle Hardy explored the iPhone's influence on the industry, writing how the introduction of a medical checklist for the iPhone could become a benefit for providers as mobile technology in healthcare continues to increase. While Hardy focused primarily on the mobile phone, Peter Waegemann, vice president of development for the mHealth Initiative, predicted the iPad could become the next big thing for doctors. "The iPad will open up a new dimension for doctors as it will become the working tool at the point of care," he said. 

[See also: iPad 2 a boon to Weill Cornell Medical College students.]

3. April 2010. Nearly two months later, John Moore from Chilmark Research questioned whether the iPad will truly be a "game changer" in healthcare, citing its "rich user interface, native support for eReading, strong graphics (color) capabilities, [and its] ability to use various medical calculators." Calling the device a "slam-dunk for Apple," Moore later questioned if it had the staying power to replace the smartphone. "Only time will tell," he wrote. "Could we even go so far as to say that the iPad will be a bigger contributor to HIT adoption and use than the $40B in ARRA funding that the feds will spend over the next several years as part of the HITECH Act?" 

4. June 2010. In the June 2010 print issue of Healthcare IT News, Associate Editor Molly Merrill reported that many were expecting the iPad to quickly surpass other tools and become the leader in health information technology. "The iPad is going to crush laptops in this [healthcare] space," said Connecticut physician Steven A.R. Murphy, MD. Steve Woodruff, founder and president of Impactiviti, believed the iPad could grow into the platform that accelerates eHealthcare on the provider side. "It's not so much that the iPad is a game changer in and of itself – it should be an accelerator of trends that are already happening, and inevitable," Woodruff said. 

5. December 2010. In this article by Merrill, the iPad's use had officially expanded into the OR, while providing a "convenient way to easily access previous patient imaging." Its new role was documented in an article published in the Journal of Surgical Radiology, which told how Georgetown surgeons were using the iPad to access, in real time, patient X-rays, CT scans, and laboratory data during surgical procedures. "The same features which make the iPad great for surfing the web, such as looking at images and viewing video, nicely translate into the operating room," said Felasfa M Wodajo, MD, senior editor at iMedicalApps.com. 

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