If Silicon Valley area companies were high school students, the yearbook superlative for “Most Outgoing” would likely go to Apple. Their devices are intuitive and easy to use, moving the brand from techie and artsy favorite to ‘normal’ people necessity in a little over a decade.
In terms of software, personal computers and consumer electronics, Apple understands user experience is the key to success, propelling the corporation’s value to $324 billion as of May 2011. This kind of usability is owed to smart design, with Apple focusing on effectiveness and efficiency via a combined understanding of human cognition and aesthetics.
This approach works beautifully for professionals with little time to spend reading up on device instructions. Physicians are among the busiest of these, so an Apple device is an automatic option when satisfying technological needs.
While these needs may begin as personal ones, say a dinner date or fitness class reminders, the speed and convenience of Apple’s approach often finds itself spilling into the work lives of healthcare providers.
While MacBooks and iMacs are not specifically designed for healthcare, an increasing number of medical applications are being written for them, including specialty-specific EHRs, imaging and patient monitoring functions.
iMacs and MacBooks are believed to promote better patient interaction and are expected to reduce the latency associated with medical note-taking when in conjunction with audio dictation software. This reduces ‘desk’ hours, freeing up physicians to see more patients daily.
Not only are devices like iPads are cheaper and more mobile than, say, COWs (computer-on-wheel systems), but Apple’s operating systems promote more intelligent user experience design.
It’s more intuitive and elegant, and it does away with useless commands like ‘Apply.’ It’s also far easier to troubleshoot and handles most updates and maintenance automatically. For physicians, being armed with an EHR on a laptop or tablet is like driving a car with auto-navigation.
Another appealing characteristic of Apple products is that they don’t need additional security software, so physicians don’t need to worry about malfunctioning medical software.
The neatly laid out menus, storage features and better built-in apps on Apple devices help physicians stay organized – an oft-cited challenge healthcare providers deal with.
Lastly, Apple products emphasize aesthetics. While seemingly not a deciding factor for physicians to choose an iPad over a Panasonic Toughbook or other similar gadgets, technology evangelists like the New York Times’ Nick Bilton would beg to differ.
In his 2010 book, titled I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works, Bilton cites Stanford University studies analyzing human trust in machines and the Internet, which helped suggest the first deciding factor in the trust relationship between humans and machines is design, followed by content.
Its clear Apple’s success relies on more than just savvy marketing, hardware design and packaging features. And considering the popularity of MacBooks, iMacs and mobile Apple machines among physicians, it seems the tablet will be ubiquitous in medical practices by the end of this year.