Five iPad Accessories for Health Care Professionals

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It’s fair to say almost everyone has bought at least one accessory for their iPhone.  My own collection consists of two items, a simple protective case, and protective case with a built in battery.  I can’t emphasize how crucial my battery case has been, especially when I hit the 20th hour of a 30 hour on call shift and my iPhone’s native battery is about to die.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the development of iPad accessories, and how companies such as Griffin, Gelaskins, Sanho, and others are scrambling to manufacture products as fast as possible.  Time is money in the accessory business, and the iPod/iPhone accessory business is big money — totaling 3.7 billion in 2009 alone.

Medical app developers have already mentioned how they will be customizing their products for the iPad.  Epocrates and Macpractice are examples of two significant players who have already committed to the iPad platform — and there are more.

With that said, there’s no doubt some health care professionals will be using an iPad, whether for reading medical books or for EMR purposes.  So then two key questions come to mind: What accessories do we want to see and whats already out there?  The following are 5 key accessories:

1) Stylus

The iPad has a capacitive touch screen, similar to the iPhone, requiring the natural conduction ability of your body to register movement.  If you have gloves on, your fingers lose their “conductive” ability, and a capacitive touch screen is your worst nightmare — you cant do anything.

To remedy this, a stylus is needed.  Luckily, there’s already one available for the iPhone, called the Pogo Sketch.  Since the iPhone and iPad both have similar capacitive touch screens, this stylus should work just fine with the iPad.  Now if only the rumors of the iPad having a handwriting style keyboard come to be true…

2) Medical Grade Case

If you’re using your iPad with gloves, you better have a medical grade case as well.  Many health care IT folk have complained the iPad could pose problems in the medical setting because it’s not “industrial” enough, and could be hard to disinfect.  The solution to this is simple, develop a case that solves these issues and make sure it meets the requirements to be used in medicine.

3) Battery Case

One of my favorite iPhone accessories is my battery case(pictured below) that extends my iPhone’s battery by about 50% — helpful on those 30 hour shifts.  Why not bring the same type of battery case to the iPad?  Proportionally, the iPad is similar to the iPhone’s dimensions, and designing a bigger battery case for the iPad couldn’t be that hard.

The extra portable battery life would be especially key for health care providers who would be using the iPad for patient interactions.

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4) External Camera and Video recording adapters

There are plenty of rumors swirling about the iPad and how its been built with the intention of having a camera and video recorder, but until this functionality is tangible, we’re hoping a 3rd party developer can step up to the plate and deliver on the goods.  Granted, they’ll need permission from Apple to connect the hardware directly to the iPad — and that’s no easy task.

5) VGA / AV out adapter

It would be great to show patients interesting medical videos you might have on a bigger screen, such as video from the Blausen Human Atlas app.  Also, if the #4 feature mentioned above comes to fruition, you could easily show pictures or videos of interesting pathologies on a big screen.  Key for grand rounds or any other large gathering.

So there you have it, 5 accessories health care providers who plan to use the iPad in practice are sure to appreciate.  I’m sure there are other accessories as well, and if any come to your mind make sure to let the us know in the below comments section.

Update: One of our commenters did an great job of explaining that the iPad will be shipping with the option to have the #5 accessory — awesome. Now if the #4 accessory mentioned, an external camera/video recorder is there, than having VGA/AV capability would be even more useful.

Discussion ( 7 comments ) Post a Comment
  • A few thoughts…

    For the stylus and using the iPad while wearing gloves… I think we shouldn’t be using it at all if we have gloves on. Gloves = contamination in my head, but maybe that’s just me.

    For # 5, a Dock-to-VGA adapter has been announced when the iPad was announced. From the iPad “technical specification” page:

    TV and video
    Support for 1024 by 768 pixels with Dock Connector to VGA Adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Component AV Cable; 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable

    One thing to add IMO: good theft protection via software (or any other mean) so you’ll be able to leave it somewhere to go see a patient and not be overly worried. The iPhone allows you to do some cool remote things, like remote lock or wipe, but the iPhone is basically always connected and has a SIM card to help identifying it. The iPad (without 3G) won’t, and it’d be nice to see something to compensate for that.

    • Any iPad linked into an Exchange network has remote wipe capability + mandated passcode lockout, which should make it more than secure enough for HIPAA. Cloud computing is a horrible security risk btw, because even if you have the most secured setup possible, you’re still centralizing all of the information in a web-accessible database. If even Google can be hacked (i.e. why they left China), how can you expect any of the fly-by-night medicine IT companies to be able to provide a truly secure cloud computing medical platform?

  • Count us as another medical app developer that’s customizing our iPhone/iTouch products for the iPad. The new device is a dramatic enhancement for the presentation of patient education information right at point of care, like the Blausen Human Atlas 3D animations example (http://www.blausen.com/iphone) you referred to. And your suggestion of adding a “VGA / AV out adapter” to support an even larger separate screen display for rich media content like that could be a real killer…and possibly even more effective in getting patients to understand complex medical concepts, lower their anxiety levels, and who knows, maybe even comply more fully with their treatment regimens.
    Bruce Blausen
    CEO Blausen Medical

  • What about the iPad cases from Portenzo.com? They make notebook style cases that can be customized per person or by company. The cases actually look like notebooks. I think that they have a really professional stylish look and would fit perfectly in the medical field profession. We use these at the office, and we get a lot of compliments from our patients. I’m glad we chose the notebook style cases from Portenzo.

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