iPad may not be portable enough to be physician phone replacement

After several weeks of fawning over the iPad, we're starting to see a few critiques from the healthcare sector of Apple's hot, new product.

While the device may be revolutionary in terms of delivering PDA-type functionality to a screen big enough not to require squinting to read minuscule fonts or endless scrolling because documents won't fit on the display, it may not be portable enough to be the only device a doctor needs.

"The iPad is on the right track, but since it doesn't fit in my pocket, it will never be the device I use while on-call," writes Dr. Joel Diamond, a family practitioner in Pittsburgh and CMO of mobile healthcare software vendor dbMotion. "The truth is, my phone is always with me and this is how I will continue to receive calls and pages when I am out of the office," Diamond says on his blog, Healthcare Interoperability Exposed.

According to Diamond, it's time to re-think the importance of semantics when designing software for mobile devices. "In my opinion, we don't wish to replicate the medical chart on a hand-held device. We want to serve up the most useful information in a way that takes advantage of the limited screen real estate," he says. "This is where knowledgeable vocabulary management, coupled with a sophisticated medical ontology, facilitates the understanding of semantic neighborhoods."

What Diamond would like to see are applications that display only the most relevant data, formatted especially for the smaller screen of a smartphone. "If I was paged with a request for Coumadin orders, wouldn't it be cool if I could easily see just the most recent lab results (PT/INR), diagnoses (a.fib, DVT, prosthetic valve), and start/stop dates? Now that would be game-changer. How about chronic disease specific summaries and dashboards? You get the idea," he writes.

To see more:
- read Diamond's blog post

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