iPad: Right Time, But Not Quite Primetime — Part III | Joe Bormel, M.D. | Healthcare Blogs Skip to content Skip to navigation

iPad: Right Time, But Not Quite Primetime — Part III

May 13, 2010
| Reprints

iPad: Right Time, But Not Quite Primetime — Part 3 Do 11 concurrent evolutions equal one revolution?  Implications of a recently released mobile tablet

Part I of this series, and Part II.
Does the arrival of Apple's iPad really cause any revolutionary changes in the HCIT scene? In this, my final post on the subject, we'll review my last two concurrent evolutions, and draw a conclusion as to the revolutionary nature of the iPad.

10. Battery Life: Most mobile devices have touted long battery lives and usually disappointed us miserably. It wouldn't surprise me if half of the size and weight of the iPad represents its internal battery. That size and weight percentage number is between 10 and 20 percent of the notebook computers I've been using over the last three years.

In my hands, the iPad easily lasts an eight-hour day, with WiFi turned on and the screen fairly bright. I'm lucky if I get three good hours on a laptop. I do slightly better on bicoastal flights with my WiFi turned off and my screen brightness turned down. The biggest clear evolution is that the iPad isn't designed to be a lap warmer; my laptops clearly function as though they were designed keep me cozy-warm. Of course, the battery life is a nice surprise, particularly in HCIT where patient safety and quality care are non-stop necessities. So perhaps a promise kept by a computer manufacturer is a part of the evolution, too.

11. Passions: One cannot adequately capture the essence of the impact iPad has had on the marketplace without reference to the buzz. There's also counter-buzz, i.e. people who, without knowledge or experience pride themselves in eschewing new technologies. "Why would I be interested in an eBook reader? I really like holding paper."

There are people, including physicians, who align themselves with trends, luxury and lifestyle products and services, and, dare I say, ecosystems. What distinguishes Apple from the manufacturers of most other mobile devices is that the company has objectively led the way in releasing solutions rather than products.

I understand the ecosystem to include at least four elements: hardware, software, commerce (think App store, iTunes, now iBooks), and marketing a pop culture lifestyle. In contrast, Microsoft is well known for software, but doesn't generate much revenue from hardware or commerce. Meanwhile, HP, Dell, and Sony are mostly hardware providers, while Google and Yahoo derive their revenue primarily from advertising.

Those passionate about design thinking will point out that Apple has created a niche for design elegance (elegance versus simplicity) that exploits and probably requires an ecosystem model.

Don't get it? Let's say you simply buy an iPhone. You seamlessly get into a communications service contract, while Apple and its carrier partner make you aware there are software applications to connect you to major media, e.g. newspapers, brick and mortar retailers, etc.

The "store" to buy or otherwise obtain these applications is already on your phone. The software, hardware and content are an integrated system. It's a hundred thousand plus apps strong, and won't cost all your search time or degrade the stability of the device. The combination simply works and works simply. Contrast that with purchasing a BlackBerry Storm. I know lots of people who have lived that gruesome experience.

Positive experiences have created passion for the Apple ecosystem that now extends to the iPad. That is evolutionary in the broadest sense, but does it really matter when we focus on HCIT, which is where we're supposed to be focused? The simple answer is probably not much.

So here we are at the end of our week-long evolutionary journey. The path stops here — at least for the moment — and I need to present you with my conclusions. I can almost hear the Beatles now:

You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

Apple wants to change the world . . .

At least a half dozen of the evolutionary trends I've presented over the past week are concurrent with the arrival of the iPad and relevant to HCIT planning and deployment in 2010. However, almost as many are not . . . at least not without a significant stretch of the imagination even by Applephiles.

Do I recommend that your hospital consider acquiring iPads for clinicians? That depends upon the unique and hopefully well-defined needs of your organization. But I think we demonstrated in Part I of this series that clinician use of an iPad can prove generally beneficial if the tablets are provided to those prone to use the latest technology. After all, it does work well in the settings appropriate to its capabilities.

Hopefully, this post brought together some thought provoking bits of information. No, I'm not declaring a revolution. The iPad is an evolutionary tool, and like all such tools, is both useful and still itself evolving. Whether the product becomes revolutionary for HCIT, in my opinion, is irrelevant. We are, however, undeniably living in revolutionary times for healthcare, including HCIT . . . and that's what's really exciting.

The Health IT Summits gather 250+ healthcare leaders in cities across the U.S. to present important new insights, collaborate on ideas, and to have a little fun - Find a Summit Near You!


See more on