Collected: In medicine, iPad today means a Mac tomorrow

By Jonny Evans

Doctors in Mumbai this week used an iPod in knee surgery, yet more evidence of the growing popularity of Apple [AAPL] solutions across the medical field. The iPad is leading Apple's resurgence in this new market, even as the latest IDC/Gartner figures confirm we're at the beginning the Post PC age.

Information is power

iPads are helping save lives, as tools with which to access patient records and collaboration in diagnosis. You can even get regular medical magazine, the British Medical Journal, on an Apple tablet, which also acts as a complete medical library -- all in a device that weighs just over a pound.

Doctors need light, powerful, connected devices, and Apple's iPad is the tool of choice (as confirmed in this survey I've come across since writing this report). Can the Mac be far behind?

[Above: iPad used during surgery in Japan.]

An October 2010 survey across 1,000 medical professionals revealed that 25 percent already use iPads while another 70 percent intend using one with a year.

In another relatively recent survey, four out of five physicians surveyed by Aptilon said they planned to purchase an iPad in 2011.

Doctors already use the tablets to access their electronic medical records.

(Medical tablets isn't just an oxymoron: Amednews tells us one of the first tablet devices ever developed was the GRiDPad, created in 1989 by Palm Pilot inventor, Jeff Hawkins).

[Above: An ER doctor talks medical on iPad.]

Keeping tabs with tablets

ClearPractice last September introduced Nimble for the iPad, a full-featured electronic medical record (EMR) app. Similar solutions (Canot and Haiku) are currently being tested by the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

"Ultimately it would be really ideal if the physicians could have something similar to a notepad," said Lee Carmen, associate vice president. "While they're going bedside-to-bedside, being able to look up the textual date, but also images, and patient education information."

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That's exactly the kind of use of an iPad being made at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. There patients are being shown Xrays and detailed medical information on an iPad.

[ABOVE: Spot the medical iPad use in Apples slightly cheesy iPad marketing video clip.]

During Apple's iPad 2 launch it showed a video (above) in which Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess, said the iPad "will change the way doctors practice medicine.''

[ABOVE: Research at Kobe University.]

Dr. Maki Sugimoto at Japan's Kobe University has developed a new educational system which uses an iPad (and clever 3D) to help students and surgeons understand patient anatomy and the nature of cancerous lesions. "I couldn't believe my eyes, it really helps me to understand," one trainee doctor said.

There's a wave of similar activity:

-- First-year medical students at Stanford received new iPads when they started in August 2010 as part of a scheme to test the effectiveness of the devices.

-- If you visit any one of 43 RehabCare facilities you'll come across an iPad uses as point-of-care devices.

-- Kaweah Delta Health Care District; The Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Dept. at Loyola University Medical Center in Illinois and Georgetown University all use iPads in their medical and surgical classes.

[ABOVE: The iDoctor health record app.]

Memphis doctors are also working with Apple tablets. "With an iPad, I can go in a room and show a mom X-rays of her child and what we've done with the X-rays," one doctor told Memphis Daily News. "I can go in the next room and pull up a patient record and something educational to let them see a picture of their child's anatomy."

In Australia, graduate doctors in Victoria use iPads in hospital treatment in a pilot scheme. "The iPads will allow doctors and nurses to access any web-enabled application run by their hospital as they move around the hospital, as well as allowing them to tap into health information resources," health minister Daniel Andrews said.

[ABOVE: There's ongoing research in Switzerland, too, at the University of Geneva.]

Prediction: Apple will strongly embrace 3D

You'll notice that many of the medical imaging solutions currently seeing development and use on the iPads, you'll frequently find strategic use of imaging technologies from OsiriX. This independent company creates an open source DICOM viewer.

The Hartford Hospital Stroke Clinic designed an Apple-based archiving system using OsiriX.

I think these medical and scientific uses strongly reinforce expectation of a move to 3D support across Macs and Apple's mobile devices.

Take a look at Apple's own medicine pages for some fascinating stories exploring use of its solutions in the medical space.

[ABOVE:Dragon Medical Mobile Recorder: a medical dictation app for easy creation of patient notes.]

In February, the FDA approved a new mobile radiology application called Mobile MIM. This is a remote diagnostic imaging application, which lets doctors access patient data remotely on their iPad in the event they can't get there themselves.

Apple leads in post-PC

That Apple's iPad is entering the medical professions is remarkable enough. But the product is turning up across multiple professions now, leading to an Apple renaissance in industries previously closed to the company.

What does this mean? We already know that if iPads were included in PC marketshare statistics, Apple would be the second-biggest PC maker in the world, slightly behind HP.

Indeed, as the PC industry begins to shrink, Apple's Mac sales continue to climb, while iPad sales become stratospheric.

Gartner and IDC figures both confirm that Apple is one of only two big PC vendors to see growth in PC shipments in the first quarter 2011. Apple's Macs grabbed 9.3 percent US marketshare, according to Gartner, or 8.5 percent if you listen to IDC.

Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa says: "Low prices for consumer PCs, which had long stimulated growth, no longer attracted buyers.

"Instead, consumers turned their attention to media tablets and other consumer electronics. With the launch of the iPad 2 in February, more consumers either switched to buying an alternative device, or simply held back from buying PCs. We're investigating whether this trend is likely to have a long-term effect on the PC market."

[ABOVE: iResus for the iPhone.]

A long-term effect?

I should think so. PCs won't die, they'll just fade into the background. Where everyone in a family would have their own PC, now there will be one major computer in each household and an array of powerful post-PC devices. iPads for example.

Meanwhile, Apple's brand share is at an all-time high. Proven to be innovative in the markets its share continues to climb and most analysts agree the company will own the tablet market for some time yet. This will fuel further Mac sales. That's because in its marketing and other press activity, Apple today can point to the use of the iPad across the medical profession to say "Apple adds life."

What is the effect of all this? As Apple's iPad sales explode, competitors find themselves ever more unable to acquire components at competitive prices, driving them to consider adoption of less expensive -- and, frankly, less impressive, solutions.

I'm interested in your thoughts.

My argument is that where medicine adopts Apple solutions today, other industries will move to its platforms tomorrow. Is this what you see happening, or do you have another expectation. Or have you come across innovative new medical research using an iPad? Let me know in comments below.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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