Physician enthuses about the iPad mini, but admits keyboard could give Surface the edge

January 23, 2013
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In a blog post for KevinMD.com, internal medicine physician Vineet Arora explains the advantages and disadvantages of using the iPad mini for work, having received one recently as a gift.

Like many other physicians, Arora has been impressed with the iPad mini’s size, which allows her to put it in a lab coat, hold it in one hand and even store it in a purse. The nimble iPad mini dimensions were also cited with Arora admitting that she carried the iPad mini around more than the 9.7-inch iPad, which she describes as "hard to carry".

Arora says that interest in the iPad mini has seen her make new friends in the hospital, to the point where she met one nurse who later came to the physician’s rescue in helping a patient.

However, the iPad mini is not without its pitfalls in the healthcare environment, according to Arora, with the tablet easy to lose and hard to see for the visually impaired.

“If you are in your Citrix Client looking at your electronic health record, it may not be so easy to magnify and you may have to hold it up closer to your face, which can be awkward,” she said.

But perhaps the biggest problem with the iPad mini is the lack of a keyboard, with Arora suggesting that its absence prevents the small Apple tablet from becoming a “complete substitute for a workstation or pen and paper”.

“This is not unique to the Mini. There is a reason that mobile tablet computing is not a complete substitute for a workstation – the lack of a keyboard.

“As a result, some our residents carry “paper notes” with their iPad – the paper notes are to take notes of the to-do list that is created on rounds. The iPad does not replace that so readily.

So, what could the answer be for physicians and tablet computing in healthcare? Arora, who is associate professor of medicine at The University of Chicago's department of medicine, argues that Microsoft’s Surface tablet has a chance.

“I have to admit, watching the catchy commercial for the Windows Surface, there is still something so appealing about an external keyboard.”

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