Apple’s iPad Mini is slated to be a popular holiday hit this year—with its new, slight size more suitable for stocking stuffing —not to mention its lighter price tag. But beyond its consumer appeal, is there anything to gain when downsizing from Apple’s iPad to its Mini for health professionals?
Yes, there are reasons to embrace the iPad Mini, according to Dr. Scher. We asked the digital health technology consultant at Digital Health Consultants, senior medical advisor at Happtique, and regular blogger at his site Digital Health Corner, to gives us his take on why physicians should consider trying this smaller Apple tablet on for size. Here’s what he had to offer:
With a 7.9-inch screen that’s a third smaller than regular iPads, and half the weight at 10.9 ounces, the iPad Mini is certainly easier to handle and hold onto, now that it fits in lab coat pockets; a small detail that could make a big difference for physicians, according to Scher.
The portability of smartphones has made them a popular tool for patient education and provider teaching, but the Mini could change that. The iPad Mini may be small, but its larger screen in comparison to smartphones may make it a better choice to display education materials and illustrations. There are many tablets on the market that can do this at a similar size, but one could argue those devices don’t don the apps or the intuitive interface that health professionals have grown to love from the iPad.
The Mini may just be small enough to convince those who have never used an iPad to try one. With size on its side, the iPad Mini may be seen more as a bigger smartphone than a smaller tablet in some physicians’ eyes—making it a less intimidating and more adaptable option for familiar smartphone users. It may also facilitate the use of apps more closely associated with phones, according to Scher.
Health organizations that enact a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy must endure the headaches that come with employees using disparate devices, from security problems to interoperability issues. Still, the practical portability of smartphones has made BYOD policies imperative. Dispersal of proprietarily preloaded Minis, as Scher suggests, could help address those issues and aid to enforce other polices regarding smartphone use.
[See also: Tom Murphy Talks BYOD in Healthcare]
Considering the Criticisms
Scher’s reasons are all worthy of consideration, especially when stacking them against the pre-established benefits of iPad use for physicians. But the news about the iPad Mini isn’t all positive. Tech experts who put the Mini under the microscope have exposed a few of its flaws. One feature, or lack thereof, that’s garnering criticism is Mini’s missing Retina display, which gives the 9.7-inch iPad its crystal clear picture.
Of course, there are whispers that a Retina Mini is already in the works, packed with nearly three times the pixels than the current iPad Mini; the device’s current 163-pixel screen has been described as somewhat grainy. It’s conceivable that Apple could be cooking up the next generation of Minis. After all, the iPhone5 was released with the desirable Retina display. It may not be worth the wait, however. CNET is reporting that if the Retina Mini does, indeed, exist, it likely won’t hit the market until next year.
Another criticism of the iPad Mini is price. Starting at $329, the Mini is more than half the price of regular iPads, making it an economically appealing option. However, it’s worthy to note that price is at least $100 more than several other 7-inch tablets on the market. Still, Apple’s apps and interface reign in functionality, so both may be worth the added cost.
Looks like there is much to consider when it comes to the iPad Mini, including good reasons why physicians could embrace Apple’s littlest tablet. Still, all this information begs the question: is less really more? You’ll have to decide that for yourself.
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