Nicholas Pell
Dec 7, 2011

iPads and the future of medicine... and Apple

Like a lot of news in tech innovation these days, it sounds like something out of Star Trek. Yet, you won’t be surprised to hear that the medical field is turning to iPads as the newest piece of standard equipment in the field. This promises not only a small revolution in the field of medicine; It also secures Apple’s dominance in the tablet field.


Advantages of the iPad 2 in Medicine


The iPad’s use in the medical field has a variety of applications. First, it is an improvement over even the smallest laptop due to portability. The intuitive nature of the iPad also makes it more accessible than a standard laptop -- it’s hard to imagine anyone who got through medical school being unable to operate the device without special training. Apple’s are known as being “crash proof.” While this is, strictly speaking, untrue, the Apple’s stable operating system is crucial for the medical field. There’s no time for a system crash in the middle of surgery. Long battery life and a (relatively) low price point are further qualities making the iPad an attractive option for hospitals trying to leverage the Internet for medical professionals.


Potential Pitfalls of Use


The iPad is not without its problems in the medical field, however. Perhaps most importantly, the device is not designed with medical use in mind. Cleanliness is a huge issue in hospitals. The size, while smaller than a laptop, can still be a problem: The device won’t fit conveniently into a lab coat pocket. iPad users still can’t multitask on the device and if a doctor needs to use a website with Flash forget about it. There are no plans to add Flash to the iPad’s repertoire.


Innovation and Apple’s Plans for Domination


While the iPad 2 isn’t perfect for medical use, it has a number of distinct advantages. It isn’t just private hospitals that are getting into the act, either. NBC News reported that Veterans Administration hospitals are also interested in using the iPad, to the tune of 100,000 units. The device is certainly attractive to the medical field and Apple is known for anticipating customer need. Look for 1 Infinity Loop to make some tweaks to its iPad, perhaps even releasing a model with features solely for the medical profession including:


·      A tougher, more durable design.


·      An easier cleaned and sterilized tablet.


·      A smaller tablet, closer in size to an e-reader than a tablet for greater portability.


The Importance of Apps


There’s one other advantage the iPad 2 (or any tablet for that matter) has over its bulkier cousins in the laptop world: Apps. The Apple Marketplace already includes apps designed for medical use. These medical apps have moved out of the field of consumer-level applications and into the realm of professional grade. While a medical diagnostic app is useless at best to the layman, it can make the life of a doctor far easier. Of course, all new technology comes with potential pitfalls: Would you rather have your doctor relying upon his professional expertise or an app?


The Way Forward for the Medical Tablet


Resolving the contradictions of the iPad and medical needs isn’t terribly difficult. Indeed, many innovations are spurred on by finding a new niche for a product, then adapting the old product to meet specific needs. Apple is known for moving mountains to get their products into line with consumer demand. The medical field is perhaps the first major test of the post-Jobs world in Cupertino. If Apple is incapable of rising to the occasion, you can bet one of their competitors will. Either way, the medical field is about to get a big boost from the world of tech.