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.

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*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:

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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.