Sunday, April 11, 2010

Medical iPad?

I've had a few doctors ask me when we are going to get the iPad in our office. I work in a fairly large medical company and the iPad would be a great fit into our routine and flow, except that it wouldn't. Of course there are some apps out there that the doctors would love to use; Epocrates an app for medical information, DrFirst an app for e-prescribing and Osirix an app for viewing medical images (DICOM).
The problem with using an iPad in a corporate setting or medical setting is that it would be hard to administrate. If we were to buy 50+ iPads now we would have to set up 50+ iPads individually, roll them out understanding that if one of them goes down we would have to manually restore them on an individual basis. Right now we can restore a pc remotely in 20 minutes without ever having to touch the machine itself. We use images of the pc operating system and all of the needed software to backup and restore a machine. Not really a viable option for the iPad.
Another issue for the iPad in a medical field is that nearly all of the medical networks are on a domain. The iPad would have to be able to join a domain natively using kerberos. When you are dealing a a legally regulated system such as HIPPA you have to have a strict amount of user access control and penetration security. Sure the iPad is secure for itself, but it would not be for the group. The ability to control what apps a user can install is a must. Think of a user transferring a patient files via dropbox. Even innocently this would be a huge HIPPA violation.
Most of the software in the medical field is currently written in Dotnet, Visual Basic or Java. I think we all know how that would work on an iPad. I don't even have to continue this paragraph to get my point across, but I will. Software used in the medical field must play well with others. Documentation software should be able to inter-connect with imaging software, billing software should play well with documentation software and so forth.
I shouldn't even pick on this, but screen resolution would have to be better for a medical tablet. You cannot diagnose a medical image using any screen. We use 21" Planar screen with a resolution of 1200x1600. I'm not saying that the iPad would have to be that size, or that a doctor should be able to diagnose on a mobile tablet. They will try though. Doctors usually use a tablet to show a patient their image...usually. Imagine a doctor missing a tumor because the screen wasn't up to snuff.
Printers are the bane of everyone's existence. I don't know of a single administrator who likes printers. The technology is so old and so fragmented that there are literally tens of thousands of independent drivers floating around. Printer technology and fax technology will be dead one day. But they aren't yet. They are still a very real and necessary means of transferring information. I shudder at thinking what it would take to add 20 printers to an iPad to work in all of the applications. HP and others have created a work around to printing from the iPhone but it would once again need to be a native ability.
I'm not just picking on the iPad here. From what I understand the HP slate will use Win7, but a home version so joining it to a domain will not be possible either. You would have to completely install another OS onto a JooJoo to even think about any of the things I have listed above.
All in all we are getting real close to having a tablet that would work in a corporate environment as well in a consumer one. We aren't there yet, but I'm betting that it will be a windows solution. Apple is missing out on a real opportunity to completely own a field of technology. Apple's attention placed on the user experience would go over very well with a medical staff. They are very aware of how many clicks it takes to perform a task and how their overall flow works in a clinic.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew may writes:
    "Your article is dead on when it comes to the iPad, its a consumer device, not enterprise, and Apple is missing the mark as it traditionally does with its product when it comes to the enterprise side of things. You in fact can expand it from the medical field to all enterprise solutions. You simply can not control this device remotely, print, domains, etc... which is key in an enterprise situation. There is a lot of potential here, but Apple has control issues and will never let go, I wouldn't be surprised if they somehow started to cut Mac OSX off like this as well...

    This brings me to the point that Apple will never grow its market share past a certain %, as at a certain point its mostly enterprise solution computing... we can discuss this in depth a bit more later, but honestly I feel as if your article is absolutely right, but many Apple kool aid drinkers will say that it would work. My big thing is you would still need a stylus and a digitizer...

    Let me know if you have anything specific you'd like me to address."