The iPad in the Doctor’s Office
So this new type of portable computer/notepad/netbook went on sale over the weekend.
It’s called the iPad – perhaps you’ve heard of it?
Seriously, I don’t know how much you’ve read or maybe you even stood in line last weekend and already bought an iPad for yourself, but current debates over the device include these:
– Whether it will save newspapers and magazines
– If its portability and ease of use for casual Internet users compensate for a virtual keyboard and the lack of USB ports
– Just how quickly will it destroy sales of other e-readers on the market?
Plus, I’ve been reading about the iPad’s possible role in transforming health care and the doctor/patient relationship in particular.
Consider this, from pediatric neurosurgeon Hal Meltzer in HealthLeaders Media,
Eventually, he thinks he and other doctors will use it, especially because its toy-like appearance may help explain medical issues to children in a less scary way.
“There’s so many possibilities,” said the neurosurgeon, who hopes that the device will save trips to the computer monitor to review MRI or CT images.
Yeah, I could see that.
And also: remember your kid’s asthma diagnosis, or maybe even all the appointments that led up to that diagnosis?
Remember all your confusion?
Now picture the pediatrician or ER doctor whipping out an iPad, showing you a video of a bronchospasm-induced coughing fit, and saying, “Does your kid ever sound/look like this? Because this is asthma.”
Or imagine if your pediatrician could play recordings from the R.A.L.E. Repository of Lung Sounds, instantly and right there in the examining room, so you can understand exactly what kind of respiratory symptoms to listen for at home.
Imagine the implications for earlier diagnosis and better at-home treatment for kids with conditions like asthma.
Physicians, assuming they’re interested in using iPads as teaching tools in clinical settings, could help parents/patients understand complex medical information better via visual and audio examples like these.
Improving comprehension = taking some of the guesswork out of recognizing and treating flares quickly and effectively.
I’ve been reading about at-home health applications for the iPad, too, like “Ask an Expert” at Unity Medical. Click on the far right video in that link to see a demonstration, but the application basically takes the symptom-checker concept of popular medical websites and amps it up several notches. It includes, for example, images of specific symptoms that help the user determine whether to make a doctor’s appointment or decide if a child is contagious.
Of course, you can find the same information yourself, today, without an iPad or this app through a simple Google image search, WebMD’s Symptom Checker, and reputable medical websites about specific conditions. It will just take you more time.
Overall, the health care applications look pretty exciting, possibly even game-changing, though this post is all conjecture. I’m not likely to own an iPad anytime soon since my laptop is dying, and saving for a new one on a freelancer’s income takes precedence over a device that probably couldn’t serve as my primary portable computing/telecommuting solution.
I could be wrong on that last bit, though. (Wouldn’t be the first time!) I’m interested to see how (if?) other bloggers and/or freelancers make the iPad work for them.