Medical Schools Going For iPads

Posted on May 11, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Recently I came upon two interesting data points which support the idea that iPads are catching fire in the world of academic medicine:

*  University of California at Irvine’s medical school has an initiative underway, known as iMedEd, whose mission includes giving new iPads to every member of its incoming med school class.  The tablets, which were first issued last year, come loaded with all of the materials students need for their first year.

*  Stanford University’s School of Medicine began distributing iPads to incoming students in 2010, arguing that the new technology would help them “make significant changes to the current model of medical school education.”

Meanwhile, high-profile medical blogger Kevin MD has gone so far as to say that iPads should be mandatory for medical school students, and it’s hard to argue that there’s something big happening here. And he’s not alone.

Interestingly, much of the action seems to have taken place in a rush, about mid-2010. My Google searches didn’t turn up any more recent examples of medical schools going wild for iPad technology (though med bloggers continue to stump for the iPad as though they were working for Apple’s marketing department).

Still, my instinct is that the Stanford and UC Irvine examples of iPad adoption aren’t just flashes in the pan. Honestly, despite my deep and abiding love for my iPhone, I sort of “don’t get it” when it comes to the iPad. Still, it’s hard to argue that there’s a groundswell of support for the device’s use in medicine.

However, don’t get your hopes up that this will create a generation of EMR-friendly doctors. From what I’ve been told, even schools that tap into the iPad’s neat capabilities are still teaching students to document medical data the old-fashioned way — dictation or hand-written notes.  Oh well — you can only push through so much cultural change at a time.