Vol. 41 March 7, 2011 “Hey, PC Guys, Get Over It!”

Physicians are buying and using iPads and iPhones just like the rest of the world because EITHER:

“The iPad is intuitive, easy to use, reasonably priced, easy to carry around, and has a lot of apps that have been developed for the platform. People — not just doctors — love the experience of using an iPad.”
OR
“Apple has developed a very appealing hardware platform in the iPad. Recognizing the market strength and lock-in to their walled garden they are creating with consumers, Apple is targeting key market segments to create new revenue streams and business models. Health care is the next target for Apple’s aggressive smarts.”

This “coincidence vs. conspiracy” theory was advanced in a recent Health Care Blog.

The Apple II that I bought for my middle school son decades ago looked like a typewriter and had mostly empty air inside its case. Granted it needed a fan and lots of air around it to keep cool, but I suspect that Apple knew that we would be much more comfortable buying something that looked and worked like a typewriter to replace our typewriter. Apple continues to appeal to our comfort zone. “Hey, PC guys, get over it!”

During my years as a hospital administrator a decade or so ago the weekly mantra from the hospital’s Chief Information Officer seemed to be, “The critical step for implementing EMR is to get over the hurdle of the physician/computer interface.” He was talking about the proprietary computerized information system in our hospital. At the same time, some cardiologists in our hospital were asking when would they be able to review lab results and write orders from their Blackberrys (then) and  (now) iPads and iPhones.  Then, the initial single, desk top computers at the nurse’s stations were quickly overwhelmed with people trying to use them. Clunky computers on mobile stands began to appear to decompress the nurses’ station, and the competition with IV poles, wheelchairs, and other medical devices for noisy “banging rights” began. Now, a physician standing quietly in the hall between patients can review office schedules, review an EKG record from his office, check for on-call nights next month, answer patients’ emails, and maybe review some labs. Of course, the physician could also be checking a stock portfolio, scanning the movie directory, or sextexting the new ER nurse she met last month. Who cares?  The physician wants to write orders, dictate a note, and review a discharge summary while standing there. “Hey, PC guys, get over it.”

A banker spending a day shadowing two physicians in an educational program sponsored by our local medical society summed up his impression of the day with, “The physician’s job is a day-long quest for credible data.” That quest can extend from home to office to hospital to lab to x-ray to nursing home to other’s offices, etc. Much of that time that physician will be on his/her feet literally moving around. Why do they like a light, thin, easy to read, easy to navigate, hand-held computer? “Hey PC guys, get over it.”

James Gleick, author of “The Information”, states that it is neither the media nor the type of technology that transforms human societies. It is the information, and the way in which people communicate with each other. “Hey PC guys, get over it.”

By the way, the future is here. My three-year-old grandson was shown how to swipe his father’s iPhone and touch an icon so that he could pick out his favorite music to listen to. (He is, of course, “above average” in both reading and music appreciation. All of my grandchildren are, of course, “above average” in something.) Soon after his iPhone lesson he went next door to play, saw that their TV was on, and swiped the screen a few times with no result. He turned and announced, “TV broke.”
OK, he could use a little help with sentence structure, but I’m sure “there’s an app for it”.

[This post is a week early because I will be on vacation and off the grid for a while, and I didn’t want to expose my sensitive iPhone to any salt spray.]

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