Are iPads overhyped for doctors?

The use of Apple iPads for certain tasks in an internal medicine residency program fell short of initial high expectations, although users reported overall satisfaction with the tools, according to study results published in an article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Residents who reported more "hype" prior to iPad deployment were more likely to use the iPad to enter orders, according to researchers. Moreover, those residents who used Apple products prior to iPad deployment also were likely to report higher usage of the iPad.

"While early reports highlight the benefits of tablet computing in hospitals, introducing any new technology can result in inflated expectations," the researchers said. "Careful management of these expectations while promoting champions of use will be necessary to create an environment of successful adoption for mobile technology in the hospital setting."

The aim of the study was to compare anticipated expectations of iPad use and perceptions after deployment among residents. Overall, 115 internal medicine residents at the University of Chicago Medical Center received iPads and completed matched surveys on anticipated usage and perceptions after distribution one month prior and four months after deployment.

Prior to deployment, most residents believed that the iPad would improve patient care and efficiency on the wards. However, fewer residents "strongly agreed" after deployment, the researchers found. Additionally, residents with higher expectations were more likely to report using the iPad for placing orders post call and during admission. Previous Apple iOS product owners also were more likely to use the iPad in key areas.

Overall, 84 percent of residents thought the iPad was a good investment for the residency program, and more than half of residents reported that patients commented on the iPad in a positive way.

"While the use of tablets such as the iPad by residents is generally well received, high initial expectations highlight the danger of implementing new technologies," concludes the study. "Education on the realistic expectations of iPad benefits may be warranted."

A recent report by Manhattan Research found that the rate of tablet adoption among doctors has jumped to 72 percent. And in a survey published earlier this year, nearly three-fourths of healthcare providers said that tablets improve their workflow. The latter survey consisted of 152 healthcare respondents who use tablets on a regular basis.

To learn more:
- read the JMIR article