Lately, there is nothing but news about how the little Droid that could’ is going to drown the iPad in a sea of lil’ green bots. It has not happened yet, but in at least one segment of the market, the predictions of this happening are carrying a lot of weight, and that field is the medical field. From the day that the iPad launched, Doctors were first in line to get one and use them in the field.
Data access is of growing importance to medical professionals with the Obama Electronic Medical Records initiative, and patient care is bound to improve greatly if Doctors are able to access patients’ prescription history, medical history, x-rays, or CAT scan results on the spot, rather than having to run to a terminal. Of course, the form factor has a lot to do with it as tablets are far easier to carry than laptops and are much, much easier to look at than a smartphone screen, especially if the Doctor is looking at an X-ray. Not to mention the need for email access and voice mail access on the fly.
Doctors in First
Businesses have had a warm, but cautionary reaction to tablets for a wide variety of reasons. Most of them are security related, and while the medical profession has even greater data security concerns, the obvious need for tablet access to data in the Doctor’s hand is great enough to drive their adoption in hospitals early-and fast. Recent studies indicate that as many and 1 out of 5 Doctors currently use a tablet, care to guess which one? Yes, it is the iPad.
However, this is for no reason other than it is the only, or was the only, tablet on the market reliable enough and having enough battery life and usability to warrant its use in hospitals. Many professionals surveyed, however, stated that just because 90 percent of tablets in the hands of Doctors are iPads, that does not mean that in a year, this will still be true. If another tablet, any other tablet, addresses a few specific issues, it will result in the iPad losing this vital, and high profile, market.
The one that they are all waiting for is an Android Honeycomb3.0 running on any tablet PC, since just about any tablet running Honeycomb good enough. The main problem is ruggedness; if you drop an iPad, you might be in trouble because the display is made from glass. If the iPad gets wet or exposed to a harsh environment, you might just be in trouble because it is not durable enough to withstand the forces of the nature of the medical field. If a tablet comes along that is rugged and powerful enough to handle medical imaging display, the iPad may just find itself in the waiting room.
The Medical Droid
There are several reasons why Android is believed to be the real threat to the iPad. HP and the WebOS, along with its Cloud Computing strategy, are very business focused but the ecosystem may be too limited to support the kind of control that both Doctors and their IT staffs need to make a fully functional platform and, similarly, RIM and the Playbook have potential, but the same applies. Android is an open ecosystem, meaning that rather than Apple or HP controlling the system, the hospital can and they will be free to use applications they deem fit to use, as well as modify the device’s OS accordingly.
The hospital will have control over security issues and can address them directly. This is vital to the healthcare industry. In the hospital, tablets will be used on a Wi-Fi network and thus, carrier imposed limitations will not be an issue. A solid, rugged tablet with the performance and power needed can be loaded with Android, customized by the hospital IT staff, and issued to Doctors and nurses to speed healthcare delivery.
With Google’s strategy of providing its OS to a wide range of manufacturers, it makes it more likely that one of them will build the tablet that will win the race. The Motorola Xoom is one that is being closely watched as well as the relatively unknown Cisco Cius. The latter being a closed product only available through Cisco channel partners and build with business and teleconferencing in mind, making a potential threat to every business tablet wanna-be. Guess which OS it has slated to run, yep that’s right the little green ‘Droid.
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