Health IT

Why are some doctors and nurses giving back their iPads? (video)

Doctors love the iPad? Not so fast. It looks as if most doctors and nurses would rather not touch the iPad at work (or deal with any other kind of tablet computing). They certainly won’t be making it their go-to device any time soon.

“We had some instances where physicians wanted iPads — thought they wanted them — borrowed them, used them for a few days and returned them,” said Kirk Larson, a vice president and chief information officer at Children’s Hospital Central California.

Instead, therapists, dietitians, case managers and others who typically use the iPad to read give good iPad reviews, Larson said.


So why do some healthcare workers like tablets and others don’t? It’s all about the data entry, said Larson, who spoke this week at the Healthcare Information Transformation conference in Jacksonville, Florida. Jobs that require lots of typing don’t work well for the iPad. Meanwhile, if a healthcare worker is largely reading “static” content, then tablet computing works for them.

“If you think about it, on an iPad when you go to enter data and bring up the virtual keyboard you are losing half of your real estate on your screen,” Larson said. “It’s kind of awkward to do a lot of data entry on a virtual keyboard.”

About 10 percent of doctors currently use an iPad at work. There’s been lots of talk that the new iPad 3 will help increase that number. But when you look at how doctors and nurses are using iPads, it supports Larson’s assertion. The iPad is used for very specific situations, which includes reference, reading images and educating patients. More recently, the FaceTime app has been used to connect primary care doctors to patients in the emergency department.

And while there are solutions to the problem of that shrinking screen — dictation software and attachable keyboards, for example — those are imperfect and costly solutions.

Larson drew the conclusion while conducting a “device road show” at the hospital designed to get advice from staff on device preferences.

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user 3dom]