W hile in the airport, I stopped at a news stand to buy a magazine and saw on the front page of Laptop magazine: iPad or Not? I thought this was a terrific question for the chiropractic field and thought chiropractors would be happy to hear the pros and cons of using an iPad or any other tablet computer in their office.
One thing is certain: iPads are the flavor of the day. They are thin, light and have thousands of applications available. These applications are very easy to download and are free or inexpensive. iPads and tablets are touch screen, which makes them easy to use. They are also portable and capable of surfing the internet, and are invaluable for accessing social websites and email.
In reality, can we use an iPad all day long in a chiropractic office as part of our Electronic Health Record system? Probably yes. But doctors need to be aware of the negative situations they may have to face when using them for daily operations in their office. I’d like to share 5 of them.
Risk of Theft or Breakage
If used by patients to enter subjective notes or case histories, iPads can be stolen or dropped (and broken), which can be costly to doctors. CAs would have to handle and take care of all iPads used in the office, which would not be a desired additional task. Patients can easily do the same task on a desktop computer, eliminating additional tasks to the CA and eliminating all risk of theft or breakage.
One of the greatest improvements for computers over the years has been the enlargement of screens. With a large screen, software programmers can simultaneously show multiple pieces of information and images, thus reducing (sometimes eliminating) the frequent changing of screens. No one will argue that large screens make software much easier to use. iPads have very small screens. These very small screens lead to a lot of screen changing. These screen changes take up a lot of precious time and may get some doctors very annoyed. If doctors see 60 patients per day and lose 1 minute per patient, they will work an additional hour in their office every day to achieve the same work. At the end of the year, this is 300 hours of productivity lost which, based on 40 hours of work per week, could have been turned into 7.5 weeks of vacation.
Application and Download
iPad software is downloaded and installed through the Apple store. If an iPad does not work, the software cannot be used on a regular desktop computer. The only solution possible is that the doctor will have to buy another iPad and reinstall the software. The lack of another temporary solution can lead to more expenses and hassles.
Freedom of the Chiropractor
Electronic Health Record systems have done something great for doctors. They have removed paper files from the chiropractor's hands. Doctors don't have to carry or search paper files anymore. This is one of the most appreciated changes software providers have invented for chiropractors. However, if used by chiropractors, iPads are loading doctors’ hands again. Using an iPad goes backward and eliminates this great hands-free improvement. Also, iPads can be forgotten somewhere and need to be searched for, exactly as with paper filing systems.
iPads and tablets are battery-powered devices, and thus have reduced autonomy. This is a serious operating handicap for a chiropractic office. iPad 3 has anywhere between 8 and 10 hours of autonomy, depending of which application you are using. Videos and networking reduce the autonomy, and iPad 3 takes 7 to 8 hours to recharge*. As you can imagine, you may need more than one iPad, fully charged, to work for an entire day. The hassle of the constant recharge process for iPads or tablets can be very annoying to chiropractors.
In chiropractic or any other profession, reality always catches up with excitement. From there, we will have to find out if software programmers will be able to create applications that will overcome important inconveniences. Will they be able to provide software that will be more beneficial to use and limit the above risks and hassles? The least we can say is that the challenge is great, and overcoming it is no small task.
* iPad power consumption: http://www.onebitzero.com/iPad-3-battery-life-recharging-overheating-issues-review/
Claude Cote is an expert in EHR systems, insurance billing and chiropractic clinic management for 22 years. He has installed EHR system in 18 countries over 5 continents and nationwide in USA. He is the President and Founder of Platinum System C.R. Corp (www.platinumsystem.com). For comments or questions, please email to