The iPad + Medical Professionals

In a letter to a buddy I wrote:

Here’s a small-but-powerful market for you: medical professionals. The other day my doctor walked in with this big, floppy laptop that he had a real tough time using (there was no flat surface that could accommodate it properly). I learned from my experiences at a clinical trial company that doctors in hospitals use tablet computers all the time for virtual charts and for data entry when participating in clinical trials and studies. I think in this sector the tablet (I really don’t want to even type its name) could be huge.

His on-point rebuttal:

Somebody is going to have to want this pretty badly. The big hospital chains are using customized software with big price tags, maintenance agreements and a lengthy development cycle. (For similar reasons, I’d bet many of the laptops and tablets in use by these doctors today are running XP, rather than Vista or 7.)

A hospital wouldn’t really be able to switch over until the medical imaging software provider, the patient data management software provider, the billing and accounting software provider and whoever else all have designed iPad interfaces that work with these programs. That doesn’t strike me as a small thing, or anything that’s likely to happen with the big health service providers within the next 24 months. It’s probably also not something where third parties can fill the gaps — with a few exceptions, medical software companies use proprietary data formats and non-standard programming interfaces.

But this can all happen sooner for smaller practitioners, who basically just need an iPad front-end for off-the-shelf database software. This will be a boon to young and handsome medical professions seeking to appear younger and more handsome.

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