An Update on the iPad

Posted on: May 31st, 2013 by admin

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Eighteen months ago we wrote about the potential of tablet personal computers to play a disruptive role in healthcare. The iPad is now the undisputed tablet leader and consumers, especially busy clinicians, have been quick to exploit this device’s potential. A recent report by Novation has concluded that the latest iPad released by Apple in 2012 has made it easier for radiologists to review images and, in some cases, to make a diagnosis when away from their workstations.

Just published in the American Journal of Roentgenology is a paper by a group of Japanese researchers from Nagoya who studied the ability of neuroradiologists to diagnose acute cerebral infarction when viewing brain CT images. They compared a 21-inch high-resolution LCD monitor with the original iPad and concluded, “Our results show a small difference between medical-grade LCD monitors and iPad, and this is acceptable compared with past reports.” The newest iPad, with four times the resolution (2,048 x 1,536 pixels) and its Retina display, will surely mount a serious challenge to the traditional LCD monitor.

The Mayo Clinic, established in Rochester, Minnesota in 1889, is among the world’s most prestigious medical centres. They have always been at the cutting edge of medical technology — the heart-lung machine was developed there in the early 1950s — and in 2013 they have adopted Apple’s mobile devices on a grand scale. There are more than 15,000 iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) connected to the clinic’s network and in daily use by their staff who run custom in-house applications (or “apps”). One such app called Synthesis enables physicians to have instant access to patient records, including CT scans and laboratory results.

As we reported last year, at CapeRay we designed our user interface for the Soteria around an iPad. The radiographer can use gesture-based interaction — pinch to zoom, two finger panning to move the image around, and one finger sliding for contrast control — to review the captured images (see one of Soteria’s first mammograms at left). However, as emphasized by Nephosity, who recently secured FDA approval for their MobileCT Viewer, the iPad may not (yet) be used to diagnose breast cancer.

“Disruptive innovation” is a term introduced by Clayton Christensen 15 years ago in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma, describing how a product gains a foothold at the bottom of the market, moves relentlessly upward, and then finally surpasses well-entrenched competitors. Within just three years the iconic iPad would appear to be on that upward trajectory.

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