What to Know Before Buying an iPad Pro for Your Medical Practice

In early September Apple introduced the iPad Pro, the newest release to the iPad family which features an impressive 12.9 inch display, foldable keyboard and Apple stylus dubbed the Apple Pencil. The iPad Pro is now available and has been positioned for the enterprise user.

 

Can an iPad entirely replace your PC? Not likely. Is it a suitable tablet for your medical practice? Absolutely, but as with any hardware, what you stand to gain from it depends on how you plan to use it. Here are a few things you need to know before investing in an iPad Pro for your medical practice:

 

1. The iPad Pro cannot natively integrate into your Windows Network Domain.

 

Terms like “network domain” may not be native words in your vocabulary, but the impact of the iPad Pro’s inability to natively integrate into your Windows Network Domain has implications you need to be aware of if your goal is to join your iPad to your practice’s network and access files containing  personal health information which may be stored there.
Security policies such who has access to what folders and drives across your network cannot be appropriately enforced on devices that are not joined to your network domain. Password complexity and password expiration policies cannot be enforced on such devices either.   There may be third party tools that can help bridge these deficiencies, but finding, managing, and purchasing them will add to the complexity associated to the management of the device while also increasing its total cost of ownership.

 

2. One Device = One User

 

Do you share your device with multiple users in your organization? If so, you’ll want to be aware that iOS does not support multiple users. The iPad Pro is intended to be used by a single user and is tied to that user’s Apple ID. If it is your intention to share this device between users, you will need to set up a generic Apple ID that is shared by everyone who uses the device. Ensure applications in use on the iPad that provide access to patient records require unique user logins from the device so that proper security can be enforced.

 

3. Limited Applications

 

Apple has pitched the iPad as the only computer you need, yet access to enterprise level applications remains limited. Many EMR vendors offer a version of their software for Apple’s iOS operating system, but if you look close you’ll discover those apps are quite often watered down versions of the full application and thus offer only minimal functionality.  Before replacing your PC with the iPad Pro, make sure full versions of all the software packages you use on a day-to-day basis will be fully functional and supported on Apple’s iOS.

 

That said, the iPad Pro’s impressive 12.9 inch screen display provides a much larger workspace than ever before making it much more conducive for use in terminal sessions than its predecessors. If there are applications you use that are not currently supported by Apple iOS you may be able to access them via a remote desktop connection to the application’s server making this a workable issue.

 

4. Limited Device Integration

 

Do you need access to a peripheral device that connects via USB? There’s no USB port on an iPad Pro. iPad Pro users will find themselves limited in terms of external hardware that can integrate into their device. Consider how adopting the iPad Pro as your primary device will impact your ability to connect to scanners, EEG/EKG spirometers, bar code scanners, signature pads, etc.

 

There is no arguing that the iPad Pro is an impressive new addition to the Apple product line.  It offers nearly double the computing power of the iPad Air 2. The increased computing power, large screen size and the added ability to multitask by running two apps side-by-side are great improvements over prior editions. Is it a good investment for your medical practice? The answer, again, is “it depends on how you aim to use it.”

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