Does Amazon Kindle offer more primary-care value than iPad?

Doctors may be snapping up iPads like there's no tomorrow (don't worry, in Apple's world, tomorrow, i.e., the next version of a must-have product, rarely is more than a few months away), but don't count out Amazon's Kindle and its brethren just yet.

E-readers actually can fit well into physician workflow, reports Technology for Doctors, an offshoot of Canadian Healthcare Technology. "Nearly all of a physician's healthcare IT, especially primary care, involves charts, numbers and massive amounts of text notes. If done right, physicians can get by without color screens for most patient encounters. It's not a replacement for a laptop or workstation, but like the iPad, an e-reader could also be used to augment workflow," the magazine, which went all electronic itself a few months ago, says.

For one thing, the new Kindle 3 breaks the $150 barrier--hundreds of dollars less than the entry-level iPad--has superior battery life and offers free 3G wireless access, at least for book purchases. Kindles lack access to the tens of thousands of apps that have made the iPad and the iPhone so popular, but in a busy physician practice, sometimes simpler is better. Plus, the "e-ink" display of the Kindle and similar e-readers is remarkably easy on the eyes.

If doctors need a color display to, say, view images, they should be able to do so from a computer outside the exam room.

Where Kindles and other e-readers aren't so good is for interaction with patients, such as to demonstrate a procedure or show a video. They tend to be much slower than more powerful handhelds like iPads or full-fledged Windows tablet PCs, and the lack of apps can leave many a physician wanting.

To weigh the pros and cons of the Kindle in healthcare:
- take a look at this Technology for Doctors article