Device, pharma makers outfit sales forces with iPads

Apple's iPad has caught on quickly in many areas of healthcare, but perhaps no subsector has adopted the tablet-like handheld with as much vigor as pharmaceutical and medical-device makers.

"[The iPad] enables our sales employees to do a much better job of engaging in a really different way than we've done before," Medtronic CIO Mike Hedges tells the Wall Street Journal. The Minneapolis-based device giant has bought some 4,500 iPads for its sales and marketing employees, and could eventually have as many as 6,000 in use.

Hedges made the bulk purchase after attending a dinner with cardiologists who were asking about a certain drug-eluting stent in what ordinarily would have been a fleeting conversation. But one salesperson pulled out an iPad to answer all of the doctors' questions abut the product, and the stent discussion continued for several hours, according to the Journal. "Try pulling out a PowerPoint from your briefcase or from a piece of paper," Hedges says.

Medtronic competitors such as Boston Scientific and Zimmer Holdings also have bought upward of 1,000 iPads apiece. "We're beginning the process for our sales force of downloading more than 20 specific product apps and opportunity to get into pricing, time efficiency, expense reports, filling out requests and all the other things that we manage to do to take time away from the sales force," Boston Scientific CEO Ray Elliott said at a company conference last month. 

On the pharma side, Abbott Laboratories is issuing 1,000 3G-enabled iPads to its U.S. sales reps following a successful pilot earlier this year.

For further information:
- take a look at this Wall Street Journal story