iPad: Faster than a speeding gurney

by Marc Watley on April 29, 2010

While at dinner in San Francisco recently, I’d asked a good friend – a nurse who works in the Sutter Health system – of his thoughts on the iPad. “Oh yeah…I want one..now!” he responded excitedly. (We were dining at Paxti’s if you must know; good Chicago-style pizza but nowhere near as yummo as the pies at Zachary’s across the Bay in Oakland) “I think they could be the answer to replacing our patient charts (you know, those old-school metal-clad clipboards dangling from the foot of patients’ adjustable beds). The iPad would be a fantastic tool for the healthcare industry.”

My friend’s enthusiasm got me to thinking: why wouldn’t healthcare COOs and/or CTOs (often doctors themselves) embrace the iPad for their Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and other patient care needs?  The productivity gains alone would seem to more than pay for the device, connectivity, and implementation costs. Then there’s the excitement factor…when was the last time you’ve seen end users this excited to use any device for work? Granted, the iPad may not be as indestructible as, say, a $1700 ruggedized WinTelMo device currently in use by some healthcare providers, but at less than a third the price, a larger interface and I mean, come on, a much better UI, seems to be a no-brainer, right? True, the iPad is a spanking-new device that has been on the market all of three weeks, and is as of yet unproven in the enterprise. However, this does appear to be changing…and fast.  Consider a couple of data points:

First, Citrix is already on board with the iPad, having recently released Receiver for iPad which provides secure access to corporate applications and desktops – from Windows environments to Oracle databases, to, well, 3D medical imaging applications.

Also, healthcare organizations are already beginning to show up among the early business adopters of the iPad. According to iMedicalApps, Kaweah Delta Health Care District near Fresno, California, has reportedly ordered 100 iPads for use with viewing radiology images, Electrocardiogram (ECG) and other patient test results. They feel the iPad will be especially useful for their mobile healthcare workers, such as hospice and home health nurses.  The iPad and Kaweah Delta Health Care presents an interesting test case for the device…could it also serve as a sort of bellwether for iPad adoption in healthcare? Possibly.

The subject of the iPad and its potential – for healthcare and many other industries – continues to flood the Internet, and will surely be a hot topic at upcoming conferences including, I suspect, next month’s CIO Healthcare Summit.

Now then, picture if you will…let’s call him Dr. Jones.  Our good doctor is commuting home via train after a long shift at a large metropolitan hospital.

Phone rings:

“Doctor! Mr. Smith in 207 is irate and uncontrollable…help!”

Dr. Jones: “Is that right? One moment.”

Enter iPad: Secure login > Recovery Wing NE > Patients > Bleau, Joseph R. – Rm.   207/A > [TAP] > Patient I.V.> Add > Sedatives > ”Sleepia TZ” > [TAP] > Administer > CONFIRM > [TAP].

Patient: Zzzzzz.

Hospital staffer: “Bless you Doctor!”

A fictitious situation? Sure. I’m just sayin’…

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