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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

iPad Innovation?

Published February 15, 2010 2:37 PM by Luke Cowles

Unless you've been living under a rock the last two weeks, you know that Apple unveiled its newest gadget, the iPad, a tablet-sized companion piece to the iPhone.  Five minutes after the unveiling, everyone in healthcare began debating its crossover capability.  Everyone from physician groups to the American Hospital Association has seemed to praise the device, saying it will make "significant improvements" in the delivery of care.  Really?  The interesting thing about all the press is that virtually no one is asking nurses what they think.  Their voices have been relegated to the replies posted below each online story. 

In a nutshell, the iPad is the size of a large paper tablet, weighs just 1.5lbs and has a 9.7 inch touch display screen.  With a $1,000 price tag that's sure to drop over time, it’s less than half the price of similar technology some hospitals already use.  It's completely compatible with the iPhone, which many nurses already carry.  Because it's so similar to the iPhone, little to no training will be necessary on the device, saving even more costs. 

On the downside:  It has no Flash support, is not dockable, carries just 64 GB of storage, has no camera, no barcode scanner and uses non-interchangeable batteries.  After 10 hours, it must be left to recharge.  With up to 1,000 different applications it can only have one open at a time.  Nurses have also pointed out that unless it is small enough to fit into their pockets, it’s just too cumbersome. 

Technical upgrades can and will be made to the iPad.  Beyond the technical "ooh-aah", the question seems to be:  How does this actually improve patient care?  Does putting another artificial gadget between the nurse and patient really improve care delivery?  Just because we can create these technical toys; does it mean we should? 

All of my sisters are school teachers.  In the last 10 years, the government has been bulldozing thousands of perfectly good schools to build brand new, shiny replacements with all the computerized technical "ooh-aah" inside you could imagine.  My question has always been:  That's great, but are the students any smarter?  The iPad is a nice toy, but will the patients get any better? 




One major use of the new iPad that hasn’t been mentioned is for students in nursing and other medical programs – in the form of electronic textbooks. I read in an American Traveler blog that a software developer called ScrollMotion is going to create a bunch of apps for the iPad that will make e-books much more user-friendly. No more lugging around those heavy textbooks!

February 25, 2010 2:32 PM

Regarding the price of the iPad, keep in mind that the $400-$800 price range is more than likely the estimate for general, commercial retail use, not specialized healthcare professions.  Jason Wilk of Tinycomb tech news stated that:  

"The product [C5] is widely used today, but it’s dated, weighs over 3 pounds and sells for $2199. Even at the highest speculated price, Apple’s tablet will cost only $1000."

In an interview with Joe Cantlupe of HealthLeaders Media, Wilk again stated:

"For instance, the Apple tablet would cost about $1,000 compared to the $2,199 retail price for the Motion Computing C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant platform i9s..."

Equally, the staff at offered that:

"Whereas the cheapest iPad will cost $499 at retail..."  but that, "No customized medical software has yet been announced for the iPad."

To assume the "cheapest" iPad at $499 from a "retail" electronics store would meet the capabilities needed for healthcare professionals is comparing apples to oranges.  Seeing how there are "no customized medical software" applications for the device at this time, it would be short-sighted to assume the price will stay this cheap once all the necessary applications for healthcare are brought on board...and there are many.  Keep in mind, the price you quote is for the iPad as it is today...not once it is upgraded and customized for professional healthcare use.  Hospitals may eventually get bulk discounts from the manufacturer and the cost of electronics always comes down over time.  Still, it is basically clear that healthcare will be paying much closer to $1,000 for those initial iPads than the $499 you suggest.

Not that I'm taking side on this issue, but you might also find a piece from MobiHealthNews by Brian Dolan interesting, titled "9 Reasons the iPad Falls Short for Acute Care" at  

All pricing and technical issues aside, the real focus of this blog was to ask if the iPad, once realistically and widely instituted in the healthcare setting would improve the quality of direct patient care.  

February 16, 2010 4:05 PM

Sorry to be so blunt, but get your facts right. Along with the misstated price that others have mentioned, you also said the device was "non dockable", clearly untrue, and that it runs up to 1000 applications. I believe at last check it was 140,000 and growing.

February 16, 2010 12:44 AM

Incorrect basics (such as price) make for an unreliable source of information. I cringe for you.

February 15, 2010 11:48 PM

Where the heck did the $1000 price tag magically come from? $499 to $829 MAX.

February 15, 2010 11:21 PM

If you would like to publish an article stating the obvious "overhype" about the iPad and Apple in general, it should be important for you to get the facts correct.  The MOST expensive ipad is 829$ - Much lower than $1,000 you mentioned, and the beginning model of the iPad starts at $499.  Maybe next time you can look past the "technical 'ooh-aah'" and report the actual facts before throwing your opinion on the ring.

February 15, 2010 4:25 PM

Thanks for the article.  Well for me I'd like to see this or something, ****ANYTHING***** enable my daughter's medical history to be quickly and intuitively conveyed to medicial professionals in a standardized format, that's easy and intuitive to use such that her complete medical profile is communicated and easily reviewed.  Everything from her MRI, CT scans, Skeletal surveyes, abdominal ultrasounds, surgical histories, videos of her having seizures, prescription history, hospital history.  I'm sick, read sick of having to spend 20 minutes explaining all of this info 3-4 times everytime we have to haul her into the hospital for something.  If nothing else, I would like to see the iPad do this!!!!  Please.  

February 15, 2010 4:22 PM

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