Building a Medical App? Doctors Prescribe the iPad Mini

Taylor Briggs

This post was previously on the Pathfinder Software site. Pathfinder Software changed its name to Orthogonal in 2016. Read more.

According to a recent poll of doctors by Epocrates, one-third of physicians planned to purchase the iPad Mini prior to its public announcement. It makes sense, given the size of lab coat pockets and the fact that almost 2/3 of physicians use tablets.

Doctor Nir Cohen shows a patient an x-ray image on an Apple iPad at the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv December 22, 2010. The hospital said on Tuesday it is the first hospital in the world to program the high-resolution, touch-screen iPad to interact with Microsoft Corp’s Chameleon software used by hospitals. The iPad enables medical staff to help treat patients, provide consultations and study X-rays and CT scans from afar. REUTERS/Nir Elias (ISRAEL – Tags: HEALTH SCI TECH BUSINESS)

So, what does this mean for developers?

First, it means that doctors want to use medical apps. We developers will see an increasing demand for apps that medical professionals can use in their daily practice, including apps that make use of the device’s camera and audio recording capabilities. Animation and imaging must become areas of our expertise for us to succeed in creating cutting-edge medical apps that doctors use and recommend to their colleagues.

Second, it means that our apps and interfaces must scale for a variety of devices. Some surveys indicate that a majority of physicians prefer Apple products, and prefer them because of their ease of use, familiarity, and build quality. While iPhone and iPad apps currently dominate the medical App Store category, the iPad Mini should not be ignored. iOS 5 and 6 have made auto-resizing and auto-layout easier to use than ever, and there is no reason that our apps should not look good and work well on any iDevice.

Finally, it means that we need to build apps that medical professionals need and want to use. Doctors and nurses have high expectations and for good reason. If the apps we build do not function perfectly, do not provide an intuitive and simple user interfaces, or do not solve problems and make health care more efficient and less error prone, then they will not be used.

Julie Vilardi, a registered nurse and executive director of Kaiser Permanente’s clinical informatics and strategic projects was quoted in VentureBeat “iOS phones and tablets really are the devices of choice in hospitals today.  This is because vendors, in general, are taking more advantage of iOS than Android.”

Technology has the power to revolutionize the health care industry, but as we all know: the device is only as useful as the apps it runs. As developers, if we ignore the iPad Mini or iPad, we risk missing out on a huge opportunity.

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