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iPads in Healthcare: The Revolution of the Decade

Intouch Team

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This is the first in a series of articles in which we will be focusing on tablet devices in healthcare. In future installments, we’ll go into greater detail about its uses and potential in pharmaceutical sales and marketing. Are there issues you’d like to read about? Let us know in the comments!

The rapid adoption of the tablet — most commonly, the iPad® — is one of the biggest anomalies in the history of healthcare technology.

Its use has infiltrated business far faster than that of any other technology. Moreover, it is perhaps the first time that a technology’s adoption has been driven from personal use.

The day the iPad was introduced, we had some discussions about adding them into our environment; 24 hours later, we had 500 devices accessing emails.

Most technologies have, historically, been introduced on a corporate scale and eventually found their way to personal use. The iPad, however, hit stores in 2010 and, in less than 90 days, was used in half of all Fortune 100 companies. One CEO noted: "The day the iPad was introduced, we had some discussions about adding them into our environment; 24 hours later, we had 500 devices accessing emails. People expect their personal devices — iPads, iPhones and the like — to be usable at work. They want to be more productive, they want do a better job, and there’s an expectation that they’ll be able to integrate consumer devices with enterprise applications at the office." (Source)

That expectation is a novel one, and it only fully hit the business world with the iPad. Consumers were unaccustomed to having personal devices that hadn’t already been a normal part of work. With the introduction of the iPad, they assumed that they would be able to carry the personal benefits to their professional lives at once. The business world — including the healthcare industry — scrambled.

Tablets’ addition to the workplace, of course, is not simply for personal convenience. The benefits for healthcare sales and marketing are obvious and staggeringly convincing.

Unlike hard-copy collateral material, a tablet and its apps can hold near-limitless amounts of information and display it in almost limitless ways: text, graphics, video, animated illustrations, and endless combinations thereof. It can enable education through not only reading, viewing or listening, but also through games or conversation. It can be instantly on, avoiding boot-up time. It can be updated in real-time, avoiding costly reprints. It can simplify the processes of tracking, recording, locating — making previously extensive paperwork obsolete and opening the door to huge new amounts of data on customer and sales behaviors and results.

It is also inherently interactive in a way that neither a pamphlet nor a laptop could ever be. Its tactile nature makes a tablet irresistibly engaging, and its portability makes it perfect for snatching seconds with busy people — perhaps the textbook definition of a sales representative’s daily challenge.

Three years after its introduction, iPads are a common sight everywhere in healthcare — from families in waiting rooms to healthcare practitioners logging and reviewing patients’ information to, of course, the sales rep detailing the doctor. But how has this change in technology changed how healthcare works? Have the benefits outweighed the drawbacks and risks? Stay tuned as we discuss the issues further in our tablet series.

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