Apple iPad Is Doctors' First Choice, but Tablet Competition Growing: Survey

An Aptilon survey says 79 percent of doctors prefer the iPad, while a Mobihealthnews report on a health care tablet war shows increasing competition from Android, HP webOS and RIM BlackBerry PlayBook.

With Apple launching itsiPad 2 on March 11, Aptilon, an online marketing firm in Montreal, has released the results of a survey revealing that 79 percent of physicians preferred the iPad, while 12 percent would go for a Windows-based tablet and 9 percent for an Android model.

In addition, about 38 percent of physicians plan to buy an iPad in the coming year, and approximately 59 percent of doctors that own an iPad plan to use it for medical purposes.

Aptilon offers a mobile marketing service called AxcelRxSM that allows pharmaceutical, biotech and medical-device firms to advertise and communicate with physicians through the Web on an iPad in real time. Aptilon's ReachNet network allows more than 450,000 health care professionals to connect.

Aptilon interviewed 341 health care professionals in the United States between Feb. 7 and Feb. 16 for the survey.

"The research indicates that the Apple iPad is going to be an ever more important part of an HCP's [health care professional's] daily life as a tool to enhance productivity and remain up to date with the latest developments in their medical field," Aptilon's COO Mark Benthin said in a statement. "As the number of HCPs using iPads increases, Aptilon expects to see increasing opportunities for interactions between industry professionals and HCPs seeking relevant medical content using their tablets."

Everyone from enterprise communication technology specialist Avaya to online health resource WebMD is designing products for the iPad. In fact, the iPad can even help stroke victims communicate.

Doctors use iPads to view medical images, access EHRs (electronic health records) and monitor health conditions remotely. With the iPad 2 featuring cameras in front and back, doctors and patients can hold video consultations using the FaceTime application on the device.

Companies have demonstrated health care applications on other forthcoming tablets, such as the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook, and Motion Computing makes a line of rugged tablets suitable for hospitals. Tablets for the Google Android Honeycomb platform as well as HP's own webOS will add to the competition in the health care field.

In its report "The Coming Medical Tablet War," predicts that more mobile applications and deployment strategies will develop for the iPad throughout 2011, but Google, HP and RIM will challenge Apple's lead. Google's Android platform might appeal to health care professionals because of its hardware-intensive video and 3D imaging, according to Mobihealthnews.

"Google, Research In Motion and HP have especially promising chances of rocking the iPad from its podium," Brian Dolan, editor and co-founder of Mobihealthnews, wrote in a blog post.

Meanwhile, the PlayBook's compatibility with embedded medical devices should appeal to physicians, according to Mobihealthnews, which predicts that the tablet race will reshape the health care industry, reduce errors and boost quality of care.

"As the iPad matures and solidifies its role as an indispensable tool in the doctor's arsenal, a new generation of tablets will seek to usurp its place," Dolan wrote.

Still, with more than 1,000 health care applications geared toward the iPad and the iPad 2 launching, the Apple device is a dominant force, particularly with a relatively low price and solid battery life, Dolan noted.

Support for WiFi, resistance to dust and liquids, and support for security applications are among the preferences for health care professionals when choosing a tablet, according to Mobihealthnews.