Tablets Get More Serious in Healthcare

With the launch earlier today of the 7.9 inch iPad mini, Apple fired a warning shot across the bow of other hardware manufacturers with small form factor tablets, in particular, the 7 inch Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7. While these are competent devices and a little less expensive than the iPad mini (the Kindle Fire sells for $159 and the Nexus 7 for $199), the Apple eco-system is a tough competitor in the health care sector.

Between September 23 and October 22, 2012, mobile visits to AmericanEHR Partners made up 15.1% of the total with 43.9% from iPads and 43.1% from iPhones. Over the same one month period (September 23 and October 22, 2011), mobile visits made up 6.6% of total visits to AmericanEHR (41.8% from iPads and 33.7% from iPhones). In one year, mobile traffic to AmericanEHR Partners has increased almost threefold, and the percentage of visits that occurred using Apple devices has increased from 75.5% to to 87% over the same one month timeframe.

Physicians love their Apple devices. Tablets are becoming ubiquitous in both clinic and hospital settings. The high resolution retina displays provide crystal clear resolution for viewing x-rays and other diagnostic images and the form factor appears to be just right. So, how does one improve upon an already successful product, particularly in an area as demanding and competitive as health care?

I believe that the iPad mini will do just that. At 7.9 inches, the screen is large enough to comfortably view the majority of information that a clinician will need and although it may require more work to navigate around an EHR, the convenience factor cannot be underestimated. The iPad mini is the right size for many day-to-day clinical functions. It is a mobile prescription pad (watch for an acceleration in the development of prescribing and medication management applications), it is a note reviewing device (much easier than trying to use an iPhone), and it is good enough for data entry, particularly with EHRs that have been customized for the iPad form factor.

At $329 for a 16 GB WiFi version, it is also affordable enough that I can see many clinicians having one, in addition to their iPhone or regular iPad. Most importantly, it will fit in one’s jacket pocket with ease, making for truly portable computing. I am excited about the new iPad mini and will purchase one as soon as I no longer have to stand in line at the Apple store. Or maybe, I will just order online.

What do you think about the iPad mini? As a clinician, would you purchase one?

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