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A Physician's Perspective: Meaningful Use of Health Technology

Nov 3 2012   5:24PM GMT

Why the iPad mini is ideal for physicians and medical students

Posted by: DrJosephKim
hospital, iPad

I finally had my chance to play with an iPad mini at an Apple Store. I plan to buy one next month after I receive an Apple gift card for recycling an old iPhone. The iPad mini is just the right size for the ubiquitous white coat that medical students and physicians wear in the hospital (although the classic medical student white coat is a short white coat that only goes slightly below the waist).

I was impressed by the elegance and its overall performance, as I heldĀ  the iPad mini in my hand and rotated the screen. The device is well-crafted and the screen quality is exceptionally good, even though it lacks a Retina display. I admit that I’ve been spoiled by the Retina display on my iPhone 5 and my iPad (3rd generation).

Medical students and doctors working in hospitals always have access to computers everywhere, so why would they need to carry an iPad? It’s a great tool that can be used at the bedside to take notes while you’re speaking with the patient. You can do this using a stylus pen and “write” on the screen using apps that have built-in palm rejection technology so that you can comfortably rest your hand on the screen as you jot down notes.

The iPad mini won’t weigh down the white coat. It’s not too bulky (in fact, it’s extremely thin) and it’s very light. In the past, medical students and residents would develop back and shoulder problems because they were stuffing way too many books into their white coat pockets. Now, these individuals can carry a wealth of information with a single mobile device like an iPad and be connected to the Internet for cloud-based computing, for medical information searches, and more. Plus, there are so many great medical apps that are available for the iPad.

I’ve been a big fan of Apple products ever since they introduced the PowerBook and the Newton MessagePad. I used to carry my Newton in the hospital and use it at the bedside. I don’t think many people in the late 90s would have dreamed that a powerful mobile device like an iPad mini would be possible in 15 years. Computer hardware technology has come a long way.

So, what about all the Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and the Google Nexus? Google’s Android is gaining market share among medical professionals and students, but Apple’s iOS is still in the dominant position among medical professionals and it will probably stay there for a while.

I envy all those medical students who can use a device like the iPad as they go through medical school and their clinical rotations. These digital tools are becoming more powerful every year and they are allowing students to learn in very innovative ways.

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