Why physicians will prefer an iPad mini: It's pocketable

By Brian Dolan

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsThe iPad mini, which is priced at as low as $329, is "as thin as a pencil", according to Apple. Physicians, however, are likely more interested in the device's other two dimensions: Since the iPad mini is 7.87 inches tall by 5.3 inches wide, it is the first iPad that can fit into the standard lab coat pocket. Those typically measure about 8.5 inches by 7.5 inches.

About one third of physicians that Epocrates polled leading up to Apple's big announcement earlier this week said they planned to buy the device if it turned out to be a real product. Epocrates' survey took place when the iPad mini was still just a (very, very widely spread) rumor, but at the time 90 percent of those physicians who told Epocrates they were interested in buying it said that the smaller size was their main motivation because it would be easier to carry it around with them on rounds.

In an interview with the Washington Post this week, Forrester technology analyst Sarah Rotman Epps also noted that the device would likely prove popular for healthcare providers: "In the medical industry – carrying around full-sized iPads isn’t that practical," she said. "A smaller, lighter device expands the number of people who can use the device regularly.”

In May of this year, Manhattan Research announced that based on its survey of physicians in the US some 62 percent were already using a tablet of some kind. Most of them were iPad users at the time, according to the research firm. About half said they used tablets at the point of care. The year before -- in May 2011 -- the company published results from a similar survey that found about 30 percent of physicians in the US used iPads to access EHRs, view radiology images, and communicate with patients at that time.

By all accounts the iPad has dominated tablets in the physician market these past few years, and if recent surveys are to be believed, the smaller iPad mini may win over some hold outs, too. Still, at half the screen size, just 7.9 inches, and the resolution of the iPad 2 (no retina display like iPad 3 and 4), the iPad mini may find different use cases at the point of care than its predecessors or its smaller cousin the iPhone.

Preorders for the iPad mini start this Friday, October 26th, and it will hit store shelves and start shipping next Friday, November 2nd.

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