Research consultancy research-2guidance projects that 500 million smartphone users will have used a mobile health application by 2015. Today, 80 percent of doctors use smartphones and mobile medical apps in their everyday practice, according to an industry report from physician recruitment firm Jackson & Coker.
It’s been about a week now since the iPad Mini was made available to the public, and while the early reviews have been mixed, the healthcare industry is reacting favorably to the new tablet.
The 7.9-inch Mini joins a crowded field of tablets both small and large, including Apple’s own iPad 2 and the fourth-generation iPad (both of which measure in at 9.7 inches) And while tech reviews have targeted screen sharpness and aspect ratio – as well as its price tag – some healthcare experts say the Mini is going to fill a niche in clinical circles that hasn’t been met.
The development of smartphones and smaller tablets like the Mini will challenge the larger tablets for relevance in the clinical setting, enabling doctors and nurses to carry around two devices rather than lining their belts with a variety of gadgets. Physicians have been looking for a “bridge” between their smartphone – which they’ll always carry around with them – and the larger tablet or stationary PC, which will remain in the clinical setting for more complex uses. They are looking for an in-between that enhances the utilization of technology and workflows.
Physicians making their rounds, or doctors working in a clinic, don’t need mobile devices that “do everything” because they don’t want to be overwhelmed with tasks and chores that don’t necessarily need to be done remotely. The challenge lies in creating a tablet and populating that device with apps that improve the clinician’s interaction with the patient and make the best use of the clinician’s time.
The future lies in creating a network of cloud-based services that gives clinicians access to all the data they need while ensuring security. This would address “application convergence” by giving users a platform on which to pick and choose what they need to access. And it would compel developers and IT departments to create simpler apps.
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