Rumors of an Apple tablet have been all over the place during the past few weeks. Although Apple is notorious for pulling off clandestine product launches, the consensus appears to be that Apple will launch a tablet early next year. With the $19 billion dollars from the stimulus package set aside exclusively for electronic medical records, it would make business sense for Apple to venture into making tablets that can be used for electronic medical records. So then hypothetically, if we get an Apple tablet in 2010, will it really be used by the healthcare world? Everyone seems to be talking about how great an Apple tablet would be for the medical community, but few are talking about if it would actually be used.
In almost every keynote related to the iPhone, Apple has embraced the medical community and set aside time to show how its platform can be used in healthcare. The same can’t be said for other mobile technologies, such as Windows Mobile and the current reincarnation of Palm. Palm was a leader in portable medical technology and their old PDA’s continue to be used by healthcare providers. Their fall in the medical tech world can largely be attributed to their history of lackluster phones. The current Palm-Pre, a beautiful device, leaves much to be desired from when it comes to medical technology. There was a recent study stating six out of ten doctors prefer iPhones. Although this wasn’t a super-scientific survey, we’ve all seen a huge increase in the doctors and providers using the iPhone in the clinic.
This preference for the iPhone is largely due to it’s beautiful UI and ease of use. I’ve had plenty of colleagues pick up my iPhone and intuitively use the medical applications I have. Quite literally, the iPhone makes the medical technology experience fun again. This experience isn’t exclusive to the iPhone, but also with the iPod Touch. Both devices are great to hold and look at, but it’s not the hardware that makes the device exciting, it’s the software. This experience gives the iPhone a great brand name in the medical community, even to those who don’t use the phone.
I think the brand name and the fun experience the current iPhone operating system provides will be the key to the tablet’s success. Using electronic medical records definitely saves me time, but the different platforms I’ve used can be cumbersome and sometimes I feel like I’m using a program developed for Windows 3.0. Overall, it’s an efficient experience, but not a fun one. Can you imagine selling a electronic medical record to a physician who has exclusively used Windows operating systems? If they don’t like change, as many physicians are notorious for, this would be a difficult task. In the medical community the iPhone is associated with fun and innovation, two things that will get physicians like the one I mentioned excited about change. The iPhone’s Operating System has bridged the gap between PC and Apple, and it’s going to be interesting to see how the tablet will be used once the stimulus money really gets rolling in 2010. I’ll venture to guess the tablet will actually help with the implementation of electronic medical records because of the excitement it’ll bring.