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iPad hands on review: Fits in your white coat and is fast enough for Medical point of care use [Healthcare Perspective]

The iPad has finally been released and we’ve got our hands on one so we can provide the medical community a healthcare perspective of the device.  I’ve been using the iPad for the last two days, and these are the initial impressions.

Fits in your white Coat:

The iPad should fit comfortably your white coat.  If you continue on to the rest of the review you’ll see pictures of the iPad easily settling into my white coat, along with my stethoscope.  Granted, my white coat has been thoroughly stretched out with mini medical reference books, papers, and medical devices, but even with a fresh white coat, you shouldn’t have problems tucking away your iPad.

For the iPad to be seriously used in the medical setting, this type of convenience is key.  I can’t imagine carrying it around while I juggle patient notes and other necessities.

The iPad feels heavy in your hands(1.5 pounds), but is thin, measuring half an inch in depth.  The ends of the iPad are tapered, making it feel significantly thinner.  The heavy feel is almost welcome and assuring, it makes the iPad feel strong – making you feel like a drop, with a case on it, wouldn’t break it.  This type of build quality is expected from an Apple device.

ipad 9 ipad 10

*note, the iPad can go deeper into the pockets of my coat, but I left a bit out for the sake of the picture.

Fast enough for Healthcare Point of Care Use

When Apple announced the iPad’s custom designed 1GHz Apple A4 processor, heads turned.  The processors on previous versions of the iPhone were not custom designed by Apple in a similar fashion, but Apple wanted a chip that delivered high performance, while maxing out battery life.

Health care point of care use – using the device while seeing a patient, requires the ability to pull up key information quickly, or the physician patient experience suffers.  I really can’t emphasize how fast the iPad is.  Applications load faster than on an iPhone.  Web-surfing on the iPad is faster than your run of the mill desktop or laptop.  I compared the iPad web surfing experience (time to load a site) to a one year old macbook, and the iPad won every time.  Plus, websites pull up in a similar fashion – you don’t have to deal with a mobile version of a website anymore.

Below are screen shots of how some medical reference sites, such as Epocrates and Access Medicine look on the iPad’s screen:

ipad 2

ipad 3

ipad 4

This is welcome news to electronic health vendors, whose software is often heavy on system resources.  EMR vendors and medical app developers should have no problem making complex, feature rich software for the iPad.


Iltifat Husain, MD

Founder, Editor-in-Chief of Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and Director of Mobile App curriculum at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He is also the founder of iPrescribeApps, a platform for prescribing apps to patients. Dr. Husain has given lectures on digital medicine globally. He went to North Carolina State University for undergrad and went to medical school at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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30 Responses to iPad hands on review: Fits in your white coat and is fast enough for Medical point of care use [Healthcare Perspective]

  1. Iltifat Husain April 4, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

    Below are 15 promo codes we’ve been graciously given from the developers of the MD on Call App. This is one of the few medical apps that is already customized for the iPad, so definitely check it out. We’ll have a full review of the App soon. Remember to show proper etiquette, and please leave a comment letting others know you’ve used a promo code, along with the number you used. If you have some free time, feel free to add some comments about the app. Thanks!

    1) EXRR7REKN3A3
    2) 4WY6Y9TPRTJR
    3) LJR67LY3H3HA
    4) NRN74FEYLXX6
    5) 3YMM666M47M9
    7) 3NTPJ96NAPA7
    10) NJPNPWR69NPL
    11) J63AJXE333WY
    12) WKNTPRX4A7EY
    13) K3PAY6MJRRPY
    14) T6N76RP6HTJA
    15) J63X3PFYL7E4

    MD on Call’s facebook page can be found here:

  2. Brad Wynn CLS (CGT), MS3 April 4, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    That was quick…Thanks for the review! You answered most of my key questions about the iPad. Everything you mentioned is right on point, and it was a great relief to realize that it fits in my white coat as well! I was expecting most of my apps to be in iPad mode, but was a bit discouraged initially. Cant wait till the rest of them become universal apps, so they can easily be accessed on the iPad.. Thanks for the promo code for MD on call, I used number 1 – great, great app!

  3. Brendan April 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm #

    Thanks for the review. I am seriously pondering picking up one of these little beauties – for clinically relevant purposes of course. But seriously, for pt. educational purposes – this thing is amazing. can’t wait to see some anatomy program screenshots on this. Thanks for the promo code – used Number 2

  4. Stephen April 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm #

    Great review (and really fast too!). I’m especially surprised by your experience with typing on the iPad – I thought that would be a big weakness. Anyways, I took number 3, look forward to giving this app a try.

  5. Stephane April 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    I like the pics in the white coat. For patient education it certainly looks fabulous. I’m still on the fence about the importance of this mid-level device. Will I use my iPhone, Macbook Pro and the iPad daily? I can’t wait to try to try it out live and see if I would be willing to carry it around all-day. Thanks for the promo code…. I took #4.

  6. Philips April 4, 2010 at 11:46 pm #

    Useful application and Great review. I took #11

  7. Zaber April 5, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    I took #2, I love this application, especially for an intern

  8. Nino April 5, 2010 at 7:36 am #

    Took number #9! Thanks for the great review and great application!

  9. Brad April 5, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    The future is here. I took #7 – 3NTPJ96NAPA7

  10. bramzo April 5, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    I took #10 !

    Thanks !

  11. Matt internist in chicago April 5, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Thanks for the iPad review. I’m very tempted to buy one. I will try the mdoncall app on my iphone for now.

    I took #8

  12. asdf April 5, 2010 at 5:19 pm #

    12 taken.

  13. john April 5, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    Thanks for the review

    took 7


  14. TechDoc April 6, 2010 at 7:30 am #

    I took #13, thanks! Self-report outcome measures for patients…. at the clinic, which are then graded and results synchronized with their electronic records file. That would be a great use for the iPad!

  15. Chris April 6, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    Thanks for the great review!

  16. CB April 6, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Used #5. Thanks!

  17. SB April 7, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    Great review. Used NO. 6.

  18. aw5 April 10, 2010 at 8:01 am #

    In regards to reading ability, Papers for Ipad seems to lack annotative and highlight ability right now for those who will use their ipads for literature review. I found that the iAnnotate PDF combined with a Pogo Sketch stylus works pretty well. Highlighting interface is fine, if a little clunky for erasing highlighting. However, I think I will be printing far fewer PDFs from here on out.

    • Iltifat Husain April 10, 2010 at 8:45 am #

      aw5 – You are correct! We are actually in the process of reviewing/annotating iAnnotate PDF and have found it VERY useful. The problem with iAnnotate PDF is the ability to get the PDFs onto your iPad and off. Its a bit of a hassle, and if you have a laptop issues from the hospital – with extra security, than the program doesn’t work. Papers is nice because you can actively search through google scholar and download PDF files (as long as you’ve logged into your academic centers website through safari) directly to your “collection” in papers. But you’re right, iAnnotate PDF is a great app for literature review.

      How is the Pogo Sketch stylus working for you overall? Does it do a good job of fine touches, or is it a bit bulky on the screen? For those wondering what the Pogo Sketch stylus is check out a previous post of ours: /20…

      • aw5 April 10, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

        I agree, I can upload the annotated PDFs from iAnnotate pretty easily if the ipad is physically connected to my computer (once I figured out how to do it- the first review in the itunes store for IAnnotate has good directions). I see right now Papers serving as a distributive and storage utility whereas IAnnotate allows the highlighting and annotation. Would be ideal if Papers added annotative ability (I’d be surprised if they didn’t), this would make it a killer education app.

        I like the Sketch Stylus, it is pretty accurate even when fine touch is needed. I typed this post with it. In reference to your previous post, on the Ipads larger keyboard it is more than adequate, although I suspect that those wearing latex gloves should be able to type on the keyboard also. Sanitation may be another issue, though, so I can foresee perhaps some type of “disposable” stylus adapting something like the long throat swabs often found in ERs and medical offices. Or a reusable stylus similar to the current form, maybe with a little more thickness if someone is wearing gloves.

        • Iltifat Husain April 17, 2010 at 9:40 am #

          BTW, just got an email from the iAnnotate developers, and they are planning some new ways to connect the app to the computer in order to make the sync a lot easier. We’ll mention some of the new sync methods in the post we’ll have up of their PDF app review this upcoming week. Basically, syncing through iTunes and e-mail out functionality are being heavily looked into.

          You said you were able to type the post with the stylus, which app did you use to do that? (handwriting recognition) We’re still holding out hope that Apple will build that type of functionality within the operating system itself.

        • aw5 April 17, 2010 at 11:52 am #

          Actually I was referring to using the stylus on the popup ipad keyboard, not a handwriting app (although that would certainly be useful); the point being that the stylus could be functional as a data entry instrument if gloves prohibit direct typing.

          Another approach I see to data entry might be keyboards in patient rooms with Ipad dock.

          Having used the Iannotate app for maybe 50 hours of work or so reading PDFs (both medical and nonmedical) at this point, it seems to be a very nicely done app, fulfilling what seems (to me) a big need for students, educators, and readers. The one thing that I see is lacking is a highlighting “undo” brush. Currently, every time you enter highlighting mode all the highlighting that you do is treated as one “block” of data, and if you want to erase any part of that you have to erase the entire block. So I have found myself entering and exiting highlighting mode frequently, but this process is obviously less efficient than it could be.

        • Iltifat Husain May 11, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

          aw5 – our latest post is about the iAnnotate PDF viewer, we did a full review of it. Feel free to comment on that post to let us know if we missed anything. Thanks again for your comments!

        • Geoffwb May 21, 2010 at 11:38 am #

          We just updated iAnnotate!

          Here’s a quick run through of a few changes:

          – A redesigned and streamlined interface
          – You can receive, modify and send annotated docs through email!
          – Transfer PDFs via iTunes USB
          – Download any PDF link with the integrated web browser
          – Share files with other apps.
          – A redesigned document finder now includes favorites, tag search, new/recent documents, and more.
          – Text annotation summaries are available to read and share.
          – Two finger scroll allows lets you scroll while editing
          – Many other minor interface improvements and bug fixes based on excellent user feedback!

          We’d love to know what you think, and we’re super attentive to our forums if you have any questions at all.
          Also take a look a the new youtube video we put together!

  19. janbrandejs April 16, 2010 at 5:31 am #

    We should understand that iPad should be used for our access to stored patient care data and NOT for the data entry. I have an .pps demo.

  20. G2khoo June 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

    I took #14.

    • G2khoo June 26, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

      didn’t take 14. Don’t know how to get it installed on the iPad

      • Iltifat Husain June 26, 2010 at 4:31 pm #

        I believe the promotional codes have all expired or been taken

  21. iPad Accessories June 29, 2010 at 1:06 am #

    Rally nice iPad review.This liitle beauty is a amazing thing for business persons, students and also to medical community.Thanks for sharing this great review.

  22. RB October 20, 2010 at 6:02 pm #


    What brand white coat did you have when you got it to fit? My pockets are slightly too small.



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