Why Apple iPad will Dominate in the Enterprise

Ok, before I even begin, let me put it right out there: I’ve been using Apple products since I first got my hands on one of those cute little Mac SEs in the late 80′s having given up my spanking, brand new Compaq 386 with 64kb of RAM and a dual 3.5 & 5.25 floppy drives to a post doc at MIT who traded me the Compaq, which he needed to finish his thesis, for his Mac. I never looked back. I will attempt to keep that bias in check in this post.

Tomorrow, Apple will formally release the iPad 2, a device that has seen extremely strong adoption in the healthcare sector and even one of the HIT industry’s leading spoke persons, John Halamka of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital (he’s also Harvard Med School’s CIO) spoke to the applicability of the iPad in the healthcare enterprise in the formal iPad 2 announcement last week.

The iPad 2 release is happening while most other touch tablet vendors including HP, RIM, Cisco and those building Android-based devices struggle to get their Gen 1 versions into the market. Of these other vendors, only Android-based devices are available today, including among others the Samsung Galaxy and the Motorola Xoom.

But it is not so much the new features in the iPad 2 (e.g., lighter weight, faster processor, two cameras, etc.) that will continue to make the iPad the go to device for physicians and healthcare enterprises, it is the process by which Apple vets and approves Apps that are available in the App Store. Apple imposes what at times for many App developers is an arduous and at times capricious approach to approving Apps. This approval process is in stark contrast of the one for Android, which is based on an open, free market model letting the market decide as to which Apps will succeed and which will not.

Virtually any patriotic, flag-waving American will say Hoorah, the free market rules. Of course a lot of App developers are saying the same thing and have riled against the Apple process since the first iPhone release back in 2007. But the free market, even here in America is truly not free. We have put laws and regulations in place, be they environmental, public health, etc. to protect the broader public good. Apple has done much the same for its App Store insuring that those Apps which are approved are unlikely to cause harm, which on a mobile device is usually the release of personal information such as passwords, credit card information, etc.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the Android OS and its marketplace of Apps. There have been numerous reported cases of malware Apps in the Android Market that most often are not removed until after thousands of users have had their personal information compromised. The latest occurred a little over a week ago when Google removed 21 malware Apps from the marketplace and then proceeded to remove about 30 more.

In the healthcare enterprise market, where very sensitive patient information is gathered and shared for improving the quality and efficiency of care delivered, touch tablets are seen as an ideal form factor for the ever on the move clinician who is looking to access the latest patient information at the point-of-care. Therefore, as clinicians increasingly demand access to such information via their touch tablet device, healthcare IT executives will increasingly seek to insure that the devices used are truly secure. Google’s continuing struggles to keep its Android Market free of malware will prevent devices using this OS from seeing greater adoption in the healthcare enterprise. This will allow Apple to continue to put distance between itself and other touch tablet competitors in this increasingly lucrative market.

Jared Sinclair, an ICU nurse in Nashville TN, has a similar view on the topic,

John Moore is an IT Analyst at Chilmark Research, where this post was first published.

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8 replies »

  1. I didn’t realize that health care providers have been using tablet computers, like the iPad and Motorola’s Xoom, but it definitely makes sense. A tablet computer allows providers to have all the necessary patient information immediately available, even in rural areas (so long as a wireless connection is available). The iPad 2 is lighter, sleeker, faster, and easier to use than the first general iPad or its competition, the Motorola Xoom. With the iPad 2 upgrades comes two cameras, so that doctors can take photos of wounds, for example, to upload to a patient’s file or to send to a specialist or ask for a second opinion. Nurses would greatly benefit from this technology as well, for the same reasons. The iPad 2 apparently loads images faster, which providers can use to show patients their CT images, for example, and educate and work with them to better understand disease processes. As a Mac and iPod owner, I have never had to worry about viruses etc. that could harm my computer or my private information, which is a great advantage of Apple’s software compared with others. However, a drawback with tablets and smart phones is that providers may feel overwhelmed or bombarded with unnecessary emails and data. The encouraged use of a tablet has so many benefits, and Apple is very good at regulating Apps so I’m sure they’ll come up with something to restrict data overload for providers.
    Apple’s only competitor is the Motorola Xoom, which doesn’t sound as though it matches up with the iPad 2. A comparison of the two tablets was written up by Alan A. Reiter and is available at this website:

  2. Yep, I’m on board. Not only am I using the Personal Medicine Mobile Ap for my membership patients both mobile and office, ( with 13 inch macbook pro as a backup with mifi in case i run over the ipad with my car) I have just signed on a very interesting med mal and risk management program that is delivering me another ipad to assess feedback from patients about my visits and deliver the info directly to risk management. Want to know my premium?? Less than 3K a year.

    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg… We have been using a wave on consumer android/ios aps in our mobile practices, from Loseit.com to Fooducate, to mapmyfitness.com to influence patients directly in our practices. The next step with these third party consumer aps is integration with the EMR platform, so that our patients self tracking data is imported into emr securely. John Doerr called it the ” Third Great Wave” of innovation at techcrunch last year, and we are riding it. The electronic patient health record is central in the cost reductions.

    ” Virtual office” is showing truly disruptive cost reductions and I can’t figure out why hospitals are still buying 3k chunks of metal to roll around laptops on when I can drop ship an android tablet to my doorstep direct from china for about 160$. The future is getting really interesting folks.

    Natalie Hodge MD FAAP
    Chief Health Officer Personal Medicine
    Hacker, Mom, Pediatrician, House call Enthusiast

  3. As a practicing physician I have used the iPad for the past 8 months in the office and when rounding in the hospital. The device has been transformational for me from a mobility standpoint- device is light, battery life more than adequate, helps me have natural face to face contact with patients, useful to show patients diagrams, Xrays at the bedside for education, wireless ZaggMate keyboard very useful for data entry- e.g. Progress notes, though now the iPad is a better consumptive device than one for data entry (which I expect to change as EHR vendors bring iOS apps to market with important features such as integrated voice recognition). I connect to our inpatient and outpatient EHR’s via Citrix.

    As Medical Director of Clinical Informatics for our Health System I bring the iPad to meetings, rapidly navigate our EHR, production and test environments when the discussions become more abstract, run Analytics, take notes, etc. Between meetings or in my office I can review and respond to emails, review and create MS Office Word, Excel spreadsheets, Power Point Presentations (admittedly with far fewer features than MS Office), review prescription refills for outpatients then ePrescribe them to their pharmacy. In hospital hallways or the physicians lounge, I can rapidly give my colleagues a preview of our new CPOE system, show them how to access our EHR or simply show them some cool medical apps.

    While the iPad does not completely replace the laptop at this point, it serves numerous uses and I believe, along with iPad competitors, will become the dominant mobile device of choice for physicians, much as Smart Phones already are.

    David P. Hurwitz, MD, FACP
    Medical Director, Clinical Informatics
    Health First Inc.
    Rockledge, FL

  4. The best part about the iPad 2 is you probably can’t even imagine all possibility it brings. It can definitely be a game changer.

  5. An Apple a day keeps HIPAA violations at bay?

    I too am a “Mac Snob” at home. It’s not even a close question.

    Yeah, the iPad. Huge potential for health care, IMO.