Many think Apple's iPad is just what the doctor ordered

Perhaps you've heard that a Cupertino, Calif.-based company called Apple released a new consumer product called the iPad, or something of the sorts, this past weekend. Apple sold oh, only about 300,000 of the devices in the first three days. A few even fell into the hands of healthcare types.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Kaiser Permanente's Innovation & Advanced Technology Group pre-ordered two iPads to test how physicians and nurses can use them to access health information. We found out several months ago that Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles--already a heavy user of iPhone apps--had acquired some prototypes to test with doctors there.

ZDNet columnist Dana Blankenhorn goes so far as to call medicine the "iPad sweet spot." Writes Blankenhorn, "The answer is it's what your doctor has been dreaming of ever since the PC revolution began." He adds, "I can't see a thing wrong with it. It's cheap, it's easy to use, it's got all the power and connectivity you want, and it looks pretty cool too."

On the consumer side, SmartPlanet blogger John Dodge--who, incidentally shares the page with Blankenhorn--says the iPad "opens opens digital doors for the elderly." Seniors who may have struggled with cell phones and certainly could have problems with the small touch screen of the iPhone or iPod Touch should find the iPad screen just the right size for them, says Dodge, who's smart enough to have given me many a writing opportunity at the dearly departed Digital HealthCare & Productivity, née Health-IT World, some 5-6 years ago.

"With his recent liver transplant, Apple CEO Steve Jobs had a serious brush with his own mortality. He also turned 55 in February, which means he's been on AARP's marketing hit list for more than five years. I presume that to mean he understands aging quite well," Dodge writes.

Well, Jobs certainly understands consumer behaviors. Apple, though, has not made many inroads against Microsoft in the business computing market, including in healthcare. Could this be the big breakthrough for healthcare?

Here's a clue: Blankenhorn takes an informal poll of how big a factor the iPad will be at the 2011 HIMSS conference. So far, 43 percent have said, "Ubiquitous. Everywhere. An iPad-apalooza."

I can't wait to see if his readers are right. - Neil