Why the iPad Mini is the tablet physicians have been waiting for

Why the iPad Mini is the tablet physicians have been waiting for

I was skeptical about the iPad Mini.  I’ve used my Retina display iPad (3rd generation) for the past six months and been satisfied with the experience.

I’ve used it in the hospital setting during rounds, and even while talking to patients in the ER.  I’m able to easily pull up Epic’s EMR using the Citrix app, and I can easily store the iPad in my “iPad customized” white coat.

With the smaller screen size and the loss of a retina display, I assumed I would hate the Mini.  Since I’m the editor of iMedicalApps, I felt it was my duty to report how the Mini functioned in the clinical setting, so I decided to give it a shot.

After just a few days with the Mini, I realized my assumptions were completely off.

Plenty of “analysts” have written how and why Doctors will adapt to the Mini. Most of them have named price and size, but they have no idea how the typical patient encounter works or the workflow of a physician.

There is one main reason why I have become a fan of the Mini, and it’s the reason cited by many of my colleagues when I ask them why they switched.

Weight.

1.46 pounds verse .69 pound doesn’t seem to be a big difference — I truly did not believe it would be. But the change in weight is tremendous in the clinic setting.

There are two instances highlighting this.

When you slide the Mini into your white coat pocket, you instantly notice a difference from the full size iPad. No longer does one side of your white coat feel more weighty than the other. With the full size iPad, I would often have to “balance out” my white coat during rounds because one side of my white coat would drag verse the other.

The other instance and the reason why I have switched to the iPad Mini is its handling when talking to patients. The full sized iPad feels like a brick in your hands during a patient encounter.  You have to hold it with two hands, or worse, you have to cradle it in one arm while you tap on the EMR with a stylus in your other hand.

With the iPad Mini, no arm cradling is required.  It doesn’t feel like a brick in your hands by the time you’re tapping the Physical Exam portion into the patient chart. You can comfortably hold it in one hand and the weight doesn’t distract you from your patient encounter. The Mini feels like the typical clipboard you would use for a patient encounter, rather than an electronic brick.

Obviously, some caveats are important to mention.

If you have a Retina display iPad, you will definitely miss the higher screen resolution. But after a week you get used to a non-retina display, and you enjoy not having sore wrists after talking to a patient with your iPad.

Some analysts have argued that it’s harder to use an EMR with the Mini’s display. This is garbage. The great thing about the Mini is you get the same screen real estate that you would on a full sized iPad.  Of course, the objects and text are slightly smaller. I used Epic — the most popular Hospital EMR, and had no issues with doing parts of my chart and also putting in patient orders with the Mini.

Yes — the iPad Mini’s smaller size makes it easy to fit into your white coat — you no longer need a custom white coat for your iPad. Yes — the cheaper cost is another advantage.  But no, those are not the two main reasons why the Physician community will adopt the iPad Mini.

The lighter weight is the reason why.  The Mini is the clipboard physicians have been waiting for.

Iltifat Husain is founder and editor of iMedicalApps.com, where this article originally appeared.  He can be reached on Twitter @IltifatMD.

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  • Cameron Stocks

    As a medical student, I’ve found my Nexus 7 4G indispensable. It should definitely be considered as an alternative to the iPad mini. It has a narrower profile, so fits in the pocket more easily. It also has much higher resolution, and a more customisable operating system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vorand David Voran

    I would have to agree the Mini has surprised me as well. My initial thought was who needs a Mini? Especially one without the retina display that the smaller iPhone and larger iPad have (was that by accident or convenience for this coming spring’s MIni-2?).
    Back to the Mini. It has surprised me to see my wife (for whom I bought the device) jump on the device more than she ever did with her iPad (traded in). The key seems to be the mobility and the ability to slip into most purses. My guess is that if it had full blown telephony or the same radios the iPhone has she’d drop the iPhone like a stone and be very happy with using the Mini for everything.
    Me? Heck, can’t justify it with all of the other items lying around but I guess I’ll wait for the retina display Mini that’ll probably hit the market in March ’13.