iPad: Just What the Doctor Ordered

As if Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad needed any help in unit sales growth, another market now promises to help take the dominating tablet to new heights: the medical market.

Apple acknowledged the medical sector in its video detailing the iPad's first year (from around 2:44 through 3:22 in the video) that was shown during the iPad 2 unveiling. The iPad's medical uses were highlighted, along with education and enterprise. Medical is one of the sectors that have been using the iPad in new ways that promises to transform medical care.

Wired recently uncovered some new details on how Cupertino has been specifically addressing the medical market. The report provides an insight into Apple's strategy in targeting medical practitioners in a characteristically secretive fashion. Apple's medical-market manager, Afshad Mistri, is the company's head in the medical industry.

Mistri is the one who helps push iPads into the busy hands of physicians and other doctors. He is also responsible for the subsector of the iTunes App Store that gathers apps geared toward health-care professionals.

Source: Apple.com, AirStrip Patient Monitoring app.

Apple must walk a fine line when pitching the tablet, since it's dealing with one of the most heavily regulated industries known to man, along with the investment industry (even if they fail from time to time). So long as the iPad is marketed as a general computing device, it should be safe from regulatory scrutiny.

Although if Apple were to sell it for specific medical uses, it could have the U.S. Food and Drug Administration soon knocking on its door. The FDA is currently aiming to regulate the software that transforms the iPad into a medical device, while leaving the tablet itself to its own devices.

One might wonder whether Steve Jobs wanted to give the medical industry more attention, considering his ongoing health concerns. In fact, Pixar was initially geared toward rendering images for the medical market, long before it was picked up by Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) , so Jobs was no stranger.

Thousands of iPads are being deployed in hospitals all over the world, and adoption is still in the early phases. For one hospital, the iPad provided a streamlined order-entry system that doctors can use to order tests, prescribe drugs, and check medical records.

The medical market is just another new and somewhat inadvertent market for the iPad to conquer. You sure won't find any Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) PlayBooks, which received a poor reception among the medical community. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android-based tablets have a better shot because of more third-party apps than RIM. So long as doctors don't end up relying on the WebMD (Nasdaq: WBMD  ) app instead of their decade of education, I'm all in favor of tablet-wielding docs.

Add these companies to your Watchlist to see which ones succeed in the medical market.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of Walt Disney and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Walt Disney, and Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2011, at 10:08 PM, brennan2893 wrote:

    Great article. Very informational. I love everything that's coming out of the iPad from the health sector. I really believe it has the chance to change the healthcare community. And I want to help it along

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2011, at 10:28 PM, techy46 wrote:

    I'll bet Windows 8 tablets will work well with Kinect and XBox too

    http://publicyte.com/xbox-kinect-applications-to-health-and-...

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2011, at 7:11 PM, rfaramir wrote:

    End the FDA. It is a hazard to health. By keeping new drugs and devices off the market or slowing their adoption, it kills people. By retarding the growth of the medical industry, it makes us all poorer.

    It has no reason for being. It's supposed reason for being, keeping us 'safe' from drugs that did nothing or were poison, was never a widespread problem. And any such problem would have been dealt with better by the free market.

  • Report this Comment On December 15, 2011, at 10:08 AM, prginww wrote:

    The guy who wrote this article obviously didn't do any "homework" other than reading Apple's PR. There are already numerous mobile devices, tablet PC's, and other computers in use in the health care industry. The idea that the ipad is going to make real inroads, except in some niche markets, is unlikely. First of all the software and medical data behind the presentation/data capture device are generally more important than the device itself,and where most of the cost/money to be made, lie. Both the medical records, the presentation/data capture device, and the telecom implementation are subject to HIPAA regulations. Also, devices for uses in hospitals would have to be very durable. The devices in use now are frequently dropped, have moisture spilled on them, etc. Go walk around a hospital today and see what they are using. There are mobile "tablets" in use all over the place, and they're not ipads. An ipad would last a week if used to replace the "tablets" that are currently being used.

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