Apple’s iPad remains the tablet PC of choice for physicians in United States, despite aggressive competition from competitors
With remarkable speed, medical professionals have taken to using tablet PCs. In fact, more than half the physicians in the United States now admit they use iPads and similar devices for healthcare purposes! This is an important trend because it changes the way clinicians want to access clinical laboratory test data and other forms of patient information.
The market for tablet PCs among medical professionals has grown each year since Apple first introduced the iPad in 2010. In fact, the global market for tablet PCs in healthcare is expected to increase to $1.7 billion for 2013.
Healthcare Usages of Tablet PCs Grew 27% in 2012
This would be an increase of nearly 27% over the prior year, according to a new report from Kalorama Information, a market research firm specializing in medical-related products. This estimate is based on surveys of physicians and other healthcare professionals who use their tablet devices for medical purposes at least 50% of the time.
Majority of Physicians Expected to Own a Tablet PC by End of 2013
These findings are supported by a 2012 survey of 3,015 doctors conducted by New York-based Manhattan Research, a pharmaceutical and healthcare market research and services firm. Surveyors found that 62% of U.S. physicians reported using an iPad for professional purposes. That was nearly double the number using them in 2011, noted a report published by Information Week.
This adoption of tablet PCs is not limited to just the United States. A 2012 survey of 1,200 European physicians by Manhattan Research found that 26% own an iPad and an additional 40% said they planned to buy one within the next six months.
Versatility of iPad Encourages Greater Usage by Doctors
The Kalorama Information report cited several factors that encourage growth in the use of high-tech mobile devices in the healthcare market. These include:
• Increase in the aging population;
• Shortage of qualified medical professionals;
• Cost restraints;
• Medical error reduction measures;
• Government incentives;
• Expanding capabilities of these devices; and,
• Off-site medical care.
Tablet PCs are used for a variety of tasks in the health field. These tasks include access to patient records at the point of care, improved viewing capabilities for medical images, and easier offsite patient monitoring, wrote Melissa Elder. She is a Kalorama analyst and the author of the report.
One reason the tablet is popular is it mimics clipboards and other communication products already used by physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, noted Elder.
Doctors Using Tablet PCs to Access EHRs and Lab Test Data
She further observed that doctors use tablet PCs to connect to a patient’s electronic medical record (EMR) and add information to it. “These are among the devices making EMR a reality in healthcare, without them it would be difficult to pin healthcare workers to a desktop,” she noted.
Additionally, clinicians routinely use tablets to:
• Submit patient prescriptions;
• Order medical laboratory tests and other diagnostic procedures;
• Access medical information;
• Consult with specialty peers; and,
• Help explain a patient’s condition or test results.
Most Doctors Still Prefer the iPad
Apple’s iPad continues to grab a larger share of the market each year, according to the both the Manhattan Research and Kalorama Information reports. Despite efforts by iPad competitors, healthcare professionals still prefer devices offered by Apple, which has created 118 apps for doctors, nurses, and patients, noted a report published by Mobile Health News.
Additionally, another Mobile Health News report noted that Apple solved doctors’ complaint that the iPad was too large to fit into the pocket of their lab coats by creating the iPad Mini. The smaller iPad may help the iPad maintain its competitive edge in the healthcare marketplace.
How Rising iPad Use Impacts Labs
Collectively, the findings of these reports demonstrate that the trend of physicians using tablet PCs is setting deep roots. What this trend means for medical laboratory professionals is a need to prepare their facilities to interface with mobile communication devices, particularly tablets. Laboratory technicians and pathologists may also want to consider integrating the tablet PC with informatics tools they routinely use to communicate with their laboratories’ client physicians.
– Patricia Kirk