Health Care Field Eyeing Apple iPad

The Apple iPad already has the medical community intrigued, says a new study, which reports that nearly 20 percent of surveyed clinicians expressed interest in the iPad, while 9 percent plan to scoop one up asap.

The Apple iPad, which is scheduled to ship in the March timeframe, will more than pique the interests of enterprise users, say industry observers. And according to a Feb. 4 report from Epocrates, which offers a medical application in the Apple App Store, the medical community is one vertical market with an eye already on the new offering.

In a survey conducted days after the Jan. 27 introduction of the iPad, Epocrates reported that nearly 20 percent of the clinicians surveyed expressed plans to purchase an iPad.

Additionally, the survey reports that 9 percent responded that they plan to buy an iPad as soon as the device becomes available, while another 13 percent plan to buy one within the year.

Another 38 percent said they're interested, but would need more information in order to solidify a purchasing decision.

"By optimizing our software for the iPad, we are capitalizing on the larger screen real estate and interactivity provided by this sophisticated device," said Rose Crane, Epocrates CEO, in a statement. "We are committed to providing the most productive experience at the point of care, keeping physicians informed and focused on the patient rather than searching for answers. We are continuing to explore the advanced capabilities of the iPad and ways it can help Epocrates address the evolving health-care technology needs."

A potential boon to clinicians, the iPad promises 10 hours of battery life, a 9.7-inch display with full capacitive multitouch input, and Bluetooth 2.1, 802.11n and, in some models, 3G connectivity.

The majority of the more than 275,000 physicians who subscribe to Epocrates' free or premium software, the company reports, use the application on a smartphone, such as a BlackBerry, Palm device or iPhone. Further, it says that 1 in 5 of its subscribing physicians currently use its mobile app on an iPhone or iPod touch.

Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler has said he expects the iPad will become popular as an employee-provisioned third device among mobile professions, who make up 28 percent of the enterprise work force.