Will healthcare ride the tablet computing wave?

The consumer product world recently shuddered with the launch of the iPad. Tablet computing promises to become big business in the very near future, and it has video gamers excited.

What are the implications for healthcare? A survey conducted by Medical Software Advice offers this perspective on the future of tablets in healthcare.

[The iPad] lacks a large number of features that healthcare professionals deemed important, such as resistance to dust and hospital fluids and disinfectants (the iPad does not have sealed ports); fingerprint access to the system (HIPAA compliance); barcode scanning (patient safety); and an integrated camera (documenting diagnosis). In fact, you could argue that the iPad’s difficulty in being disinfected or kept clean of hospital fluids is a deal breaker for healthcare workers.

Peripherals, such as an RFID reader and barcode scanner, may be available in the future. But because they’re not native to the iPad, they’re just more cables and cords a busy healthcare worker has to lug around. That’s another negative mark for the iPad.

Also, as we mentioned before, the iPad does not have a wide selection of medical software because of interoperability issues with it’s operating system. A wide selection of medical software was voted as a must-have feature by 70% of our respondents. Most medical software on the market, EMR software especially, will only operate in a Windows-based environment. This presents a huge problem for the iPad in healthcare.

The software problem may be the easiest to address. The iPhone has motivated widespread application development and the developers are already lining up to work on iPad apps.

These results seem to be focused on providers. Ordering lab results and handling prescriptions are identified as the most frequent transactions. Here are survey results for most popular tablet tasks: