Provided below is my review of the iPad after 2 weeks of testing it in a healthcare setting.
- Form factor of the iPad initially appears to be the correct size for viewing various applications. The ability to zoom in and out using your fingers is a plus when needing to view specific details in an application.
- The device is based upon a mobile OS means that most applications will not function properly on the device. The only real option for connecting to enterprise applications is via the Citrix client for the iPad. This is specifically true when using applications that require Internet Explorer.
- Will require a protective case if going to be mobile with the device on a regular basis. These cases are going to be around $50.
- The review of applications was focused on connecting to the primary clinical applications (EMR, Lab, Intranet (Order Sets), PACs, SharePoint).
- Like the iPhone 3GS, the iPad is encrypted at the same level.
- The iPad allows connectivity to the Exchange server in the same means as the iPhone.
- Utilizing the Citrix client, connectivity to the EMR was successfully established.
- In order to get EMR to work the Citrix client has to sign-on to the Citrix farm via dedicated AD account. This was accomplished using a generic account and does not pose any security issues as it is used only as means to be able to display the applications that are published in the farm.
- One issue that was identified with the Citrix client is the way it handles a disconnected session. The client disconnects properly but when you reconnect it sometimes establishes a new session versus re-establishing to the disconnected session. This could pose to be a performance issue on the Citrix Farm but could be addressed by adjusting the time out settings for disconnected sessions
- The Citrix client also provided access to Labs and Intranet (Order Sets)
- Was unable to connect to PACs from the iPad via Citrix. This is not an issue specific to the iPad but rather PACs not being supported on the Citrix Farm.
- The iPad battery is rated for 10 hours of run time and from initial testing this rating is pretty accurate. A physician at Harvard Medical Center was able to round through the ED for his whole shift with a single charge.
- Connectivity to the enterprise wireless network works with no problems. However, I did notice that going from one wireless network to another required me to manually go in and select the enterprise wireless network in order to establish connectivity.
- Apple has admitted that there are wireless issues with the iPad. In testing, I did not experience wireless issues here at work but did notice at home that it had trouble connecting in locations where my laptop connected with no problems.
- The iPad supports Cisco VPN but to get it setup requires that the secure key be manually entered. In order to keep the VPN settings secure would require someone from IS to manually enter the settings on the iPad.
- VPN connectivity would be required if a physician is going to want to access applications on the iPad while outside the hospital facilities.
- If iPad’s were provided to staff there would need to be additional research into the Enterprise tools that would allow to fully manage these devices. In addition, there would need to be a support model developed to support the devices. This will be key if the iPads being used are enabled with the 3G cellular connectivity.
- Would need to ensure the enterprise Citrix farm has enough resources to support connectivity to the applications that would be accessed by the staff from the iPad.