August 5, 2010
I’ve been trying out an iPad for the past 2 weeks. It’s a WiFi-only model (no AT&T data service), and I’m very facile with a computer—and almost always have one with me—so the iPad would have to be very good to impress me. I’ve also tried e-prescribing on the iPhone (well, Generation I, so pretty slow) and Android phones, and found both very slow even with WiFi; good only for occasional use like nights and weekends in my opinion. But the iPad is a very different story. It’s snappy with good connection speed and a very snappy processor. Apple has also changed handling of pop-up menus which are much smoother to use than the old bottom-of-the-screen iPhone solution. I could use this device for all my e-prescribing without any concern.
Remember, though, that this is really more of a smart phone than a computer, based on the iPhone operating system. So I decided to see how it would work using it for other things as well. I’ve use it for ePocrates, email (using the on-screen keyboard in landscape mode), internet surfing, a few games (whoa…stay away from that – can you say addictive!), videos (note: Flash doesn’t work, but YouTube serves up videos that do work), music, and even LogMeIn to control my computer. For things where there’s a native app like email, web surfing and music (it is, after all, an iPod of sorts), it’s great. Controlling my computer worked, but without a mouse it was a little clumsy. I also used it to take notes in meetings using a couple of different free note apps, and that worked very well. Photo-editing, not so much.
So here’s the bottom line. It’s a snazzy device with a good form factor; and, due to the processor speed and native apps, it works really well for routine chores including e-prescribing. It’s not a full computer, but the on-screen keyboard works well (there are wireless keyboards available but I haven’t tried those, nor do I need one). I wouldn’t use it for EMR, photo/video editing, or spreadsheet work, but I have found myself more and more often carrying the iPad with me instead of my notebook computer.