Apple iPad Poised for Telemedicine, Mobile Health Care

Is Apple's handheld computer, the iPad, just what the doctor ordered for telehealth and telemedicine? It certainly looks that way, according to two mobile health care industry watchers.

"While Apple CEO Steve Jobs... did not mention the health care vertical as a key market for the iPad: It looks to be just that. The iPad holds promise as a new point-of-care tool for health care workers and as a personal health device for patients," writes Brian Dolan, editor of MobiHealthNews.com.

Dolan goes on to say that the already existing library of medical apps gives the iPad a lead on other tablet PCs that may be considered for use in mobile health care.

"All 4,980 health and fitness apps currently available in the AppStore are immediately available to iPad users. That is the key leg up that Apple’s new iPad has on other medical tablets -- a built-in application library of almost 5,000 apps," said Dolan.

Another bonus: iPhone users can transfer their purchased apps to an iPad without paying for them a second time, which Dolan said is likely to help boost adoption of the iPad and telehealth apps.

That benefit, compatibility across Apple devices, will also help migration to the iPad, which clinicians are likely to want due to its large-screen display, according to Dolan.

Epic Systems, for example, just released an iPhone app called Haiku, which is a mobile electronic health record (EHR) app. "Like all iPhone apps, Haiku will work on the iPad device, too. For mobile EHR apps though, the increased screen size will likely be very helpful for those clinicians aiming to use images on the platform for making any kind of diagnostic decisions," he said.

Another mobile health expert, Mark Tauschek, lead research analyst at the Info-Tech Research Group, agrees that the iPad's large display will make it a good fit for the healthcare vertical, along with educational fields.

"The iPad has the capacity to introduce new ways of working to several industries, much the way the iPhone has changed what consumers expect from smartphones," Tauschek said in a statement. "Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch have found their way into enterprises and the iPad and other devices in this form factor will almost certainly find a home in enterprises. The biggest impact will likely be seen in the medical, professional services and educational fields where larger screens, and the ability to interact with documents, records or plans is required."

The iPhone, and similar devices, have become highly successful with apps that help doctors view digital imaging and allow students to have easy access to online educational content, including text books, he said. However, small screens have limited the penetration of potential game-changing solutions coming to market. Tauschek said all that's changing, as other vendors are also prepping tablet PCs running Windows 7 and Google's open source mobile OS Android.

“IT departments can expect to see requests to purchase and support this new generation of tablet computers" said Tauschek. "I suspect medical professionals will see the benefits of having a tablet, and many students and educators will probably prefer to carry around an iPad-like device instead of a traditional laptop."


iPad, tablet PC, telemedicine, telehealth, mobile health