Five iPad healthcare apps that could arrive before Christmas

The iPad has been the year's hottest electronic device. As the days quickly melt toward Christmas, it's high time to discuss some amazing applications for the device that may yet beat the arrival of the fat man in the red suit.

Anyone who works in the healthcare business knows how useful many of the existing iPad apps are. I mean, who hasn't seen that Apple commercial with the EKG rhythms squiggling across the screen?

Of course, I cannot absolutely guarantee the apps listed below will be available before Christmas. But by all means, dig around the App Store and you may yet find them. If not, there's an excellent chance they'll be around for the next holiday season.

For Health Plans


Price: How much you got?

With a tap of a button, this terrific app sends out form letters to your entire membership explaining why premiums must go up again. Select from a menu of more than 270 reasons, ranging from extra costs associated with healthcare reform to paying for that staff retreat in Dubai. Premium increases range from 22 percent all the way up to 378 percent, although I admit hitting the "shuffle" button was terrific fun.


Price: You get what you pay for!

Hammered by shareholders who insist on 20 percent annual returns? Plug an iPad into the telephone switchboard, and this marvelous application plays the prompt "press 1 for English" in an endless loop, permitting you to lay off the entire customer service staff. Performance is optimized when paired with iJackup ... or was that the other way around?

For Providers


Price: On a slippery slope (Oops! I meant to say sliding scale).

If you're concerned the AMA won't convince Congress to put off those Medicare rate cuts one more time, this app is more helpful than a brigade of outraged seniors! It generates random but appropriately loaded poll questions guaranteed to garner an overwhelming response from the American public. My favorite multiple choicer: "If my Medicare practitioner can only take one Caribbean vacation a year, how much more quickly will I die?" Margins of error are a mere plus or minus 73 percent.

For Patients


Price: Between $1.99 and $67,893.24, depending on your coverage and co-pays.

Curious about all those charges on your hospital bill you can't decipher? With a single scan, this remarkable app will set you straight. Indeed, I discovered I'd been billed $976.00 by my hospital for being safeguarded from potential UFO abduction during my last stay. Yes, there's a code for that! It was a relief knowing my community provider was dedicated not only to my well-being but that I also remain on earth in order to pay them.

For Policymakers

The iRepeal Reader

Price: Whatever it takes.

Just because the Heritage Foundation recently posted photos of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh on the homepage of its website doesn't mean that organization has rested on its technical laurels. They have actually begun developing apps in-house, and if they can replicate the success of the iRepeal Reader, we're in for some very interesting times. This tremendous app scans the entire 2,000-plus pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, swiftly pulling up portions of the law that can be used to inflame opposition against it. A predictive text engine even provides polemical suggestions! A terrific stocking stuffer for members of Congress who don't want to waste valuable time reading through the whole thing. Refudiation, Sarah Palin's new scholarly journal, claims it's already been downloaded 18.3 trillion times. Who knew so many people were interested in policy?

So, if one of those apps should make it under your tree, at least you've had fair warning.

Happy holidays everyone! FierceHealthFinance will not publish next Wednesday, Dec. 29, due to a publishing holiday. I'll return with more of my light-hearted opinions Wednesday, Jan. 5. - Ron

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