California Hospital Tries iPads, Will More Companies Follow?

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Business Apps for iPad

The iPad is receiving a warm welcome from developers and business users.

Part of the fun of being a blogger is the knowledge that plenty of things you say will be proven totally wrong and probably used as least once as an illustration that you're not so smart after all. That's why a thick skin and dogged persistence are two essential qualities for journalists. (Along with an ability to hold your liquor and a sarcastic wit, but I digress.)


Anyway, back in January I wrote a post about what I considered the biggest knocks against the idea of using the iPad as a business tool. A huge hurdle for me is the iPad's inability to multitask. But with the ability to multitask coming to the iPhone, can the iPad be far behind? Not to mention plenty of CIOs seem willing to give the iPad a chance, and a number of useful business applications have been created for the iPad.


Still, I was prepared to stick to my original contention, the iPad simply isn't ready for business use. I had smugly noted that the iPad probably wouldn't be durable enough, secure enough or offer the right interface for the construction or health care industries, two fields that have experimented more than others with tablet PCs and appear to have lots of logical use cases for them. Yet I had my niggling doubts.


So imagine my (not too great) surprise when I read about a California health care district that bought three iPads for testing and plans to deploy more than 100 in the next two months. As Macworld reports, heath care workers will use the iPads to look at X-ray images, EKG results and other patient monitoring programs, all delivered using Citrix virtual desktop and application delivery software.


Nick Volosin, director of technical services at Kaweah Delta Health Care District in Visalia, Calif., said the iPads also offer a longer battery life than laptops, which means less time recharging PCs and changing batteries. And they don't need to boot up, a welcome feature for time-pressed health care pros. With a $500 price tag, the iPad is also far more affordable than the specialized touchscreen tablets used by some hospitals, which can cost up to $3,000, Volosin told Macworld.


About 20 doctors employed by the district have already purchased their own iPads. Said one, kidney specialist Dr. Roger Haley:

This is going to make my day easier and patient safety better. Now, I don't have to find a workstation to do what I need to do; I do it right there, right then, right now.

Kaweah Delta Health Care District's IT team supports up to 6,500 users, including physicians and other employees, using Citrix XenApp to deliver virtual desktops and applications. Because Citrix Receiver software was already being used to deliver desktop images and applications to iPhones, extending the Citrix deployment to iPads was relatively simple, Volosin said.