The iPad has generated a lot of buzz in the health IT scene lately. Physicians seem to naturally gravitate towards iPhones and other smart phones, so it seems natural that they would also enjoy using the iPad. Despite the buzz, it is not clear just how useful an iPads or similar devices would be within a medical context.

The iPad is a neat device, although most of us at XLEMR do not own one, we can appreciate its sleek design and easy portability. Many people love the easy touch screen interface the iPad offers. We look forward to where the technology will evolve in the near future.

That being said, we are dubious about the value the iPad offers the healthcare market. Most health IT experts like the iPad for consuming data. Looking up data, reviewing medical images with patients, or otherwise passively accessing information seems to be the iPad’s best use-case.

Data entry is where the iPad becomes less useful. Typing anything more involved than a quick tweet becomes cumbersome and frustrating. Using an iPad for the amount of data entry required by EMR could really slow down physicians.

Speed is the critical factor in judging EMR systems. The main complaint physicians have against EMR is that it slows them down. Slowing down a physician’s workflow results in lower patient volumes, and in turn, less revenue for the practice.

Navigation, training, and cost are other factors physicians should consider if they want to use an iPad-based EMR. Navigation closely relates to the speed issue. Users become easily frustrated if they can not access parts of the record in an efficient manner.

Training will still be necessary, whether a physician selects a native iPad EMR or purchases an interface to his existing system. Many people believe that Apple’s graphic user interfaces are easier to learn than Windows interfaces. That may or may not be true, but staff will still need training.

Finally, cost will be something physicians should consider. Apple hardware tends to be a good bit more expensive than equivalent Windows machines. As for the EMR application itself, pricing will likely depend upon whether the EMR is designed for use on the iPad from the ground up, or whether it is an interface to a standard system.

In short, the jury is still out on the iPad. Although many experts suggest the iPad may be of limited use with EMR, we are considering developing an interface. Please stay tuned to our blog for more information. In the meantime, you may want to check out Jonathan Wofford’s blog about the iPad.

Ryan Ricks
Security Officer