iPad could be 'like gold' for radiology and image sharing

With its 9.7-inch display, resolution of 1024x768 pixels and long battery life, Apple's new, hot-selling iPad could be the first true mobile device to bring medical imaging access to the point of care, some radiologists, imaging professionals and software vendors say.

The additional resolution of the iPad compared to the much smaller iPhone is "like gold for a radiologist," according to AuntMinnie.com. "The amount of panning required to see a large image is significantly reduced, and that saves time," Mark Cain, chief technology officer of Cleveland-based imaging software vendor MIMvista, tells the radiology news site.

Radiologists will like the enhanced image viewing, ability to read reports and access electronic medical records on the iPad, according to Janice Honeyman-Buck, editor in chief of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine's Journal of Digital Imaging. "It turns on quickly, seems to open and display websites and documents faster than most laptops, and it is easy and intuitive to use," Honeyman-Buck says.

"iPads can theoretically contain the entire electronic record of the patient's imaging experience, and can be handed along the workflow as needed," adds Paul Merrild, senior VP of marketing and business development at imaging IT vendor Merge Healthcare. "At the end, the iPad has potential to provide a nice teaching and communication tool between the radiologist, referring physician and the patient."

As far as communications goes, the iPad may be unparalleled, Merrild says. "In a hospital setting, images could be given to all clinical team members at the patient's bedside. The iPad could, in essence, become a portable film jacket, but one with so much more information included," he says.

Cain believes that every EMR, HIS and PACS in use should have some kind of iPad interface. "It seems like it would be much more economical for hospitals to have personnel carrying iPads than hundreds of PCs taking up space in every room," the MIMvista executive says.

Still, the iPad's screen isn't sharp enough for the device to aid in making a primary diagnosis. And as with all mobile devices, there are security issues. "To comply with HIPAA, the iPad would have to be locked with a pass key and the access to imaging should be via a Web server," notes Mark McEntee, a lecturer of diagnostic imaging at the University College Dublin School of Medicine and Medical Science in Ireland. "This should be password-authenticated and encrypted."

For more information:
- take a look at this AuntMinnie.com story (reg. req.)