iPads, apps the new learning tools for Harvard, Yale med students

Hospitals soon may not have a choice of whether to allow physicians to use tablets for patient care. Not only is the technology's use growing steadily in healthcare, but two of the most prestigious schools in the country just joined the tablet revolution.

The medical schools at both Yale and Harvard just announced they are either providing tablets for medical students this semester, or making mHealth learning a lot easier. Yale handed out 520 iPads to all of its medical students, while Harvard is creating a set of apps just for medical students, according to the Boston Globe.

While the Ivy League institutions join a host of medical schools across the U.S.--Stanford, Brown, the University of California-Irvine and the University of Minnesota, among others--in adopting such technology at an educational level, the weight of the combined influence of Yale and Harvard could cause something of a market shift in this arena.

For example, while the 520 iPads at Yale currently are mostly for classroom work, within a year or so they will be synced with at least one of the school's affiliated hospitals, Mike Schwartz, the assistant dean for curriculum, tells the Globe. On the Harvard side, officials say they're working on an iPhone app that would allow third-year students to track patient interactions on tablets.

Regardless of which device manufacturer wins the tablet wars, the upshot for hospitals will be a cadre of students from some of the best medical schools in the country who are used to working on tablets, and may have already begun to develop their basic practice patterns around the devices, experts say.

That may not be the final word, though, Greg Hindahl, chief medical information officer for Deaconess Health System, Evansville, Ind., tells FierceMobileHealthcare. Medical students, as they get into more hands-on care with patients, may run up against one of the limitations of the tablet device--difficulty with note-taking and data entry.

For medical students, "the general nature of their 'job' for four years...is reading, seeing images, and other forms of learning which lend themselves very well to an iPad and require very little data entry," Hindahl notes, making the iPad an easy-to-like device until they're required to document care or input clinical notes.

To learn more:
- read the iMedicalApps story
- get more detail on University of Minnesota from iMedicalApps
- check out what's happening at Stanford
- see what the Boston Globe has to say