iPads in radiology: More than a gimmick?

Some observers of the imaging community certainly got the wrong idea when, after hearing about a recent study describing how radiology resident use iPads, blogged that the tablet is "more gimmick than benefit."

I don't think a headline could be more misleading.

The study in question came out of a survey of 38 radiology residents who were provided with an iPad for six months and asked about the tablet as a clinical and educational tool.

The survey responses that suggested "gimmick" to some observers, focused on the iPad's clinical utility. It turns out residents don't really use them that much in the clinic. But that shouldn't be a surprise--residents never are really very far away from a PACS workstation, which more or less neutralizes their need for an iPad in a clinical setting.

However, an overwhelming number of the residents found the iPad extremely useful as an educational tool. The vast majority of respondents said they used it in daily practice. Radiology-specific applications such as e-Anatomy were used weekly or daily by 88 percent, and seven out of every 10 respondents said they preferred reading journal articles on the iPad.

This backs up other research, as well.  For example, an article published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology last month reported on the popularity of a comprehensive, portable Radiology Resident iPad Toolbox provided to residents at the University of Colorado. It was so popular, according to researchers, that it had and "likely will continue to have, a hugely positive impact on the resident experience at the University of Colorado and represents a paradigm shift in resident education."

And last year, another survey published in JACR found that 81 percent of 308 radiology residents polled said they would they would spend more time studying if they were provided with iPads or other kinds of tablets by their programs.

A tool that actually encourages residents to spend more time studying is hardly a "gimmick." In fact, as decision makers at the University of Colorado realized, it seems like a pretty solid investment. - Mike  @FierceHealthIT