Can someone explain why I should care about the iPad?

Let me get this out of the way right of the top… I’m a luddite.

It took me 8 years from the launch of the iPod to get one. Why would I buy a device to play all of my music in yet another format after I invested thousands of dollars in CDs. They work and more importantly don’t cost me extra money. For goodness sake I still don’t even own an iPhone or any cell phone right now…shocking I know. Some people have said I’m cheap, but I prefer the term frugal. 🙂

I turn on the TV the other day, and the talking head is droning on about Apple. I ignored him until he mentions that their earnings are up 90%. Now he has my attention. These numbers are huge, largely due to iPhone and to a lesser extent iPad sales. The iPhone I kinda get, it’s a phone with all kinds of apps and looks cool. Can someone explain to me why I should care about the iPad? Is it a phone or the Apple version of a netbook. I’ll admit that sometimes I am “temporarily incorrect” when it comes to some products, but I am mystified about this iPad thing.

To put it into a larger context should healthcare IT decision makers, in Canada or elsewhere, take it seriously. I have read about many of the serious misgivings that CIOs (in healthcare and other verticals) have about Apple products. Less so about the iMac, but more about the iPhone and it’s perceived issue around security and suitability in a corporate environment vs as a consumer device. I would be surprised to hear if Hospital and RHA CIOs have not been approached by staff/doctors about integrating their iPhones into the corporate IT environment. It is not like doctors are afraid of telling you what they think or want.

What exactly can an iPad do in the Canadian healthcare IT market that can’t be done by existing hardware devices. Apple may be successful in selling these to consumers, but what real value does it actually bring to healthcare IT environments?

When I ask these questions, I feel like the teacher from Ferris Bueller’s day off…”anyone anyone…Bueller?”

Mark

4 responses to “Can someone explain why I should care about the iPad?

  1. There are so many uses for an iPad in the medical markets.
    For just a few reasons, I would point you to this article released today.

    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/10/04/21/california_hospital_plans_to_utilize_100_apple_ipads.html

  2. Let me start by saying I am aware of at least two Canadian hospitals aggressively developing / deploying iPhone applications and eagerly awaiting delivery of their first iPads. I have seen several very useful apps that put important clinical information in clinician’s hands wherever they might be located.

    I sense that you “get” the iPhone and can probably see the benefit of medical iPhone applications. What about the iPad? Well, I paid a premium to get one of the first iPads in Canada. Why? Because from the first time I used my iPod Touch I have longed for a similar device with a larger screen. There are just certain applications for which the iPhone / iPod Touch screen is simply too small.

    To better understand the iPad, I think it is helpful to understand that the iPhone (and, its sibling the iPod Touch) is more a mobile computing platform than a phone or MP3 player. Indeed, is the nearly 200,000 apps that is driving iPhone sales.

    As a mobile computing platform the iPhone is limited by its screen size. It is difficult to convey certain types of information on such a small screen. This limitation is further compounded by an aging demographic whose eyesight isn’t what it used to be. The iPad addresses this limitation and opens up a whole new class of apps.

    So, why an iPad and not a laptop? Simple – form factor. The iPad is similar in size to a piece of paper and can be used in a similar way. It is light and as easy to carry as a clipboard. You can set it on a table and type on it using a posture similar to writing on a piece of paper. Like paper, it is ready to be used in an instant without waiting for it to “boot” or “resume”.

    In a healthcare setting, the similarity to paper makes the iPad a natural replacement for many forms and documents. The larger screen size will allow information to be presented on a single screen while the iPhone might require several screens to convey the same information (impacting usability) or be hard to read.

    There is something so compelling about the touch interface. It just seems so natural. After using the iPad for several days a mouse just feels like a kludge.

    There are some physical limitations that may hamper adoption in some medical settings such as the glass screen (may break if dropped) and lack of exchangeable battery. However, these are packaging issues and not fundamental limitations of the iPad concept and form factor.

    Mike

  3. Some interesting thoughts Mike that spark two questions in my head.

    1) Do CIOs “get” the iPad or is this a physician driven technology? I think it matters because without both parties on board, it becomes much more difficult to pull this off.

    2) Am I crazy in thinking that due to the similarities with the iPhone, that the iPad is going to suffer from the same issue surrounding lack of credibility in terms of security. Healthcare CIOs are a cautious bunch, at least when it comes to data security.

    Mark

  4. 1. I have only spoken to 1 healthcare CIO so my sample size is small but “yes” based on both firsthand knowledge and articles that I am reading. The screen size / form factor is the compelling factor along with physician use of and familiarity with the iPhone.

    2. Despite the Blackberry hype the iPhone / iPad can be made secure. Further, the next release of the iPhone OS will have improved security features including over the air and on device encryption.

    Mike

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