Many using iPads in healthcare, but few have deployment strategies

"iPad and other kinds of tablets are going to permeate the [healthcare] enterprise," Brian Reed, vice president of products at BoxTone, a Columbia, Md.-based mobile service management firm, said during a recent HIMSS webinar, CMIO reports. "We're seeing iPads fly into the enterprise the way other mobile devices have in other industries over the years." Implementation of EMRs has a lot to do with the proliferation of the elegantly designed, easy-to-use Apple device in healthcare settings.

Indeed, a poll of the 1,000 or so webinar participants found that about one-third already are adopting iPads in their organizations and another third intend to do so in the next six months. But how many healthcare organizations actually have a plan for deploying iPads? "Nobody's sure what they're going to do with it, but they know they need it," said Reed.

In developing a mobility strategy, Reed recommended paying particular attention to service management of devices and the technology life cycle. "What you're really doing is you're changing around business processes and how your hospital systems work," Reed said. "You need to understand and think about a full-service management approach."

Reed identified four "vectors" of managing mobile devices: the user community; the device portfolio; mobile platforms and the underlying infrastructure; and, of course, applications. "We believe every medical setting is going to have to deal with this by 2013," Reed said, according to CMIO. "As you get into this space, you'll be hearing more and more about mobile service management."

He also said that you're likely to hear more about competing products, such as the forthcoming Android Wave tablet operating system. "One of the biggest challenges [with] the iPad today is it's not really medical-ready," Reed said. "It's not sealed, it's not sterilizable, it's not a ToughBook, it's not hardened. There's a lot of interest in Android for these hardened devices, suitable for infectious disease scenarios and things like that."

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