9 Reasons the iPad falls short for acute care

By Brian Dolan
11:54 pm
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Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsAs expected, Apple unveiled its new tablet device, the iPad, and it dominated the news cycle this week. Apple positioned the device as a new platform positioned at the intersection of the "liberal arts and technology" -- a clear indication that the healthcare industry was not its top of mind use case. Despite recent news that Apple has been pursuing a mobile EHR pilot with Epic Systems, the iPad presentation included no mention of the healthcare vertical.

However, just as the iPhone originally had no clear agenda for the medical community, the iPad may very well factor into medical application developers' plans for the year ahead. To wit: Healthcare providers, analysts, EHR vendors and developers provided MobiHealthNews with their first impressions of the iPad's healthcare opportunity for the acute care environment, home health care and self-care market. Their first impressions (and these are just at first blush, mind you) are mostly positive, but they did note a number of shortcomings. Here are nine:

  • The iPad has no camera, an important feature for any connected health tablet.
  • Despite the iPad's rather impressive "up to" 10 hours of battery life, the Center for Connected Health's Rob Havasy lamented Apple's continued use of non-swappable batteries. Most tablets targeting the healthcare environment boast swappable batteries so clinicians can continue using them without waiting for a charge.
  • Chilmark Research's John Moore pointed out that the iPad's 9.7 inch screen is not quite big enough for use with intensive medical applications.
  • Voalte's Rob Campbell argued that the iPad was perhaps too big for many clinicians who would prefer a device that fits snugly into their pockets.
  • Belgium-based senior managed care manager and respected mHealth pundit Bart Collet noted that unlike many other healthcare tablets, the iPad is not ruggedized and its screen would likely break if dropped. Many healthcare tablets claim to be drop resistant from about three feet.
  • Quintiles' Adam Istas believes the iPad's healthcare opportunity should not be judged until medical apps specifically built for the platform (and not just those ported over from the iPhone/iPod) come to the market.
  • Havasy also believes that the iPad's inability to multi-task, meaning it can't run more than one application at once is another big shortcoming that might hamper uptake for healthcare workers.
  • Most healthcare tablets have barcode scanners -- the iPad does not.
  • Most healthcare tablets are easily disinfected, water-proof and dust resistant. The iPad does not appear to address any of those issues.
  • What are we missing? Feel free to add others in the comments below.

While the iPad's imminent launch likely convinced many savvy marketers in the wireless health industry to hold off announcements this week, there were a few notable stories: Ireland launched a text message service for food allergy alerts; Diversinet and AllOne Mobile may be dissolving their five year licensing agreement a few years ahead of schedule; the White House's Text4Baby service has been delayed to launch next month and MiLife changed its strategy and name to Imperative Health following a $4 million venture capital investment from Unilever Ventures and New Venture Partners.

IN OTHER NEWS: Readers nominated MobiHealthNews to a number of categories in Medgadget's Best Medical Weblogs Awards. If you have a minute and would like to vote: Here's the link.

ALSO: Our Everywhere Healthcare event, which is co-located at CTIA Wireless 2010 at the Las Vegas Convention Center March 24, is quickly taking shape. We are happy to announce that AT&T has come on as a platinum sponsor and Diversinet and Jitterbug have joined up as Silver Sponsors of the event. Check out the preliminary agenda here and stay tuned for the speaker lineup soon. We hope to see you there!

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