iPad 2 represents 'empowering' technology for docs

Healthcare is taking center stage in iPad development, if the iPad 2's debut last week is any indication. Not only did the demonstration video mention healthcare functionality multiple times, but Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka was featured, saying he thinks the iPad will "change the way doctor's practice medicine."

Being 33 percent thinner and 15 percent lighter, the new device is sure to win converts among clinicians. The new dual-core A5 processor has improved speed, and graphic resolution, reviewers say. The new Smart Cover may well be a favorite among doctors' as it keeps the device relatively protected and, in a nifty twist, wakes the unit up when opened, then puts it back to sleep when closed. And the new front- and rear-facing camera could be important in the future, as new apps for imaging, radiology, etc., continue to emerge.

Some pundits have complained that Halamka's support of iPad amounts to an official endorsing the iPad. And coming from the CIO for Harvard Medical School, among other titles, that could be a powerful marketing bonus for Apple. Halamka, in fact, was featured in an ad campaign for Blackberry in 2006.

But Halamka tells FierceMobileHealthcare via email that his comments are nothing of the kind. "I do not endorse any technology, but report objectively on case studies," he says. "Approximately 50 percent of our hospital-based doctors have purchased iPads on their own and believe that tablet technology in general is empowering."

He indicates clearly that the iPad isn't the only tablet that can serve in healthcare. The ideal device for clinicians should weigh about a pound, have eight hours of battery life, and be easily disinfectable. The iPad happens to meet these criteria," he explains. But others are on the way, you can be sure. They had just better move fast--Apple's announcement that they planned to ship iPad's next week (rather than a few weeks from now), seems to have caused some consternation among their competitors. - Sara