iPad brings doctors closer to patients

by Charles Wright on March 3, 2011

The fact that Steve Jobs came back from medical leave to launch the iPad 2 overnight seemed immensely appropriate, given that Apple is clearly looking to develop the medical market for its tablet. Already it seems to have achieved considerable success in the area. According to Chilmark Research, which as long ago as April last year suggested the iPad was a “game-changer” in medicine, by year’s end 22 per cent of US physicians had adopted an iPad.

The theme was echoed by Dr John Halamka, CIO at Harvard University’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre, in the launch video. “Sometimes doctors are overwhelmed with data,” Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre CIO Dr. John Halamka said during the video. “What we have tried to do with the iPad is to give doctors at the point of care the tools they need at the exact moment the doctor can make a difference. We’re finding with the iPad doctors are spending more times with patients. In fact, doctors are engaging patients by showing them images, showing them data on the screen. So it has empowered doctors to be more productive but it has also brought doctors and patients together.”

Dr Halamka has clearly made a significant connection about the popularity of the iPad and the fact that 88 per cent of his colleagues don’t yet have one. Before he made the pronouncement at the launch that “The iPad will change the way doctors practice medicine”, he posted a blog entry explaining how an iPad owner could recover one if it umm, went missing.

The Apple video showed some typical interactions between iPad and physicians:

One doctor shows a patient his EKG results on the iPad screen.

Another displays gastrointestinal pathology to a patient, focusing on the gallbladder, which raises the possibility of the patient undergoing some procedures I’d rather not think about.

A third uses a DICOM viewer for a bedside chat about radiology images.

Given Steve Jobs’ recent medical history, he’s probably been doing some deep thinking about how his latest gadget could aid both doctors and patients.

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