Unless you have absolutely no imagination, you've probably noticed the resemblance of the iPad to one of those cheap little clipboards that your friendly neighborhood doctor carries around on rounds. Apple is rumored to be making its own rounds of hospitals marketing the new über-iPod touch, having visited a hospital in LA in the recent weeks.
What's so great about tablets for health care? When connected to a Wi-Fi network, they're perfect for looking up medical information or working patient charts while on the move. The iPad in particular would be perfect, having no keyboard to disinfect or lid hinges to break. In addition, the most expensive Wi-Fi iPad is priced at just US$699, while many traditional Windows Tablet PCs used in health care start in the neighborhood of $2,000.
Of course, it all depends on the software. We recently received a question from a reader who just happens to be a doctor, asking if he could use an iPad with his existing Windows-based medical record keeping system. The answer was simple; yes, since there are already many VNC and RDP apps available for the iPad that can be used to control a remote PC (examples are Jaadu VNC [iTunes Link] and iTap RDP Client [iTunes Link].
While neither of these vendors has 'fessed up to working on an iPad-specific version of their app, it's only a matter of time. For medical practices using the Mac OS X-based MacPractice system, the company has announced MacPractice Interface for iPad, MacPractice Kiosk for iPad, Dental Chart for iPad, and an iPad-based EMR/EHR app.
With a little luck and a big marketing push from Apple, the iPad may make it into hospitals and medical offices around the world.
Update: The author apologizes to all who were offended by the previous image that accompanied this post. Also, please note that the image above is an artists conception and does not indicate that an iPad or any other unsterilized electronic instrument would be used in a hospital environment.