The iPad May Soon Have Competitors in the Health Care Market

Although Apple made the first move and captured physicians' hearts with the iPad, new suitors from BlackBerry and others may soon come a-courtin'.

First, a very happy belated Thanksgiving holiday to everyone — hopefully your loved ones are healthy, your turkey (or Tofurkey) was large, and your Internet access was fast enough to bless you with the ability to avoid the “Black Friday” shopping crowds.

Are you in love with the iPad? My Facebook page is buzzing with people shopping for deals on this gadget. I initially wrote off the iPad as an enhanced iPod and thought it would take time for functionality to be added that would make it attractive to business, and I wasn’t alone in this assessment. Maybe I was wrong.

Although the iPad is obviously designed to please the general consumer, I’ve been surprised to learn about how well it has been received by the health care marketplace. According to a recent survey of Good Technology’s user base, the health care sector is one of the heaviest early adopters of the iPad for business use. It’s easier to lug around an iPad than the traditional tablet PC -- that’s a given. And there’s no doubt that the price is right. The impediment that I had initially thought would prevent early adoption by business -- functionality -- is apparently being rapidly erased by the development of health care-focused applications, such that it’s even been suggested that the iPad may encourage EMR system adoption.

Granted, Good’s user base isn’t necessarily representative of the health care industry as a whole. And while the iPad may have had a bit of a head start (iPads accounted for approximately 95% of tablet shipments worldwide in the third quarter of 2010), other companies are following up with tablets that are designed to serve the business niche out of the box.

One example, the Blackberry Playbook could end up being a real contender. The Playbook itself was only announced in late September, but there is already plenty of buzz about a medical imaging app that was a part of Playbook’s first live demo. Plus, according to a review on Clinical Network Solutions, the Playbook comes with hardware that enables it to do more out of the gate when compared to the iPad.

According to CompTIA, approximately 25% of doctors and dentists report that they’ll invest in a tablet over the next 12 months, which makes me wonder why other companies -- like Microsoft, for example — have not been quicker to jump on the tablet bandwagon.

Ideas?