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iPads for hospitals: is this a good idea?

Can you wash it, drop it, stop your patients from stealing it?

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Next year, 500 doctors and nurses in Victoria hospitals will trial the use of iPads.

Graduate doctors, rather than crusty consultants, will get the devices, as the "younger group of students and graduates of the health professions have grown up with technology all around them," Daniel Andrews, Victoria's health minister, said.

Australia's medicos are not alone in using iPads in hospitals - California, inevitably, got there first. But the Victoria scheme looks ambitious.

"It is these young graduates that will be at the forefront of the introduction of a range of technology-based changes to the way patient information, diagnostics and treatments are performed and recorded," Andrews said, AAP reports.

But iPads: is he sure about this?

Steeling for stealing

Earlier this year, we republished an article from Smarthealthcare.com, which rubbished the suitability of the iPhone for health use. Battery life was the deal breaker.

Our readers weighed in of course, and many observations apply for the Pad.

Reg Reader 'Matt 13', for instance, notes:

Panasonic are another company that produce a medical tablet, can be disinfected, steamed, dropped and runs for ever on its battery, Windows based so all the software runs without needing recoding and with encryption and biometric logins, relatively secure... it also looks like nothing you would really want to steal!!!

The iPad's battery life should last more than most working days, but it is eminently desirable and stealable, and not really something that most owners would like to drop or put in the steamer.

As a consumer device, it almost certainly costs much less than a specialist medical tablet, such as the Panasonic Toughbook H1 Medical Clinical Assistant. And as Matt 13 says, this is not a looker. But money saved upfront may lead to headaches down the line. ®

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