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The iPad: The Next Big Thing?

Castro, Harvey MD

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000369265.54664.e7
DOC Approved

Dr. Castro is an emergency physician, the CEO of Deep Pocket Series (, and the creator of several iPhone apps, including IV MEDS, Stroke Scale, A Shockable Ringtone, Drug Seeker, and 1st Follow Up.

The latest buzz is all about the iPad, and it certainly will have some useful applications for emergency medicine. You've probably read all about its unique abilities, but keep in mind that there are some things it won't do.

* The iPad cannot take pictures or do telemedicine conferencing.

* It cannot run several applications at once like an iPhone.

* It will not replace your laptop. It does not have a USB port, and does not support Flash for web browsing.

* The iPad does not allow battery replacement.

* Most importantly, if you're thinking of it for use in the ED, keep in mind that most hospitals run Windows, and do not support Macs.

Other unanswered questions are whether the device complies with HIPAA, if it will respond when a user wears gloves, or if it can withstand the abuse of the emergency department.

If you do buy an iPad, though, some applications are must-haves. The iPad will have access to more than 100,000 apps currently in the Apple store. One of these is Skype, which allows current iPhone and iPod Touch users to call anywhere in the world using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). If you don't already have this, download it from iTunes.

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Apps of the Month

Blausen Medical Atlases: From what I've read, the iPad will be excellent for educating patients at point-of-care. Blausen Medical makes a variety of apps that explain various medical conditions and treatments using one- to two-minute video animations and sixth-grade level narration. The company offers more than 300 videos in its Human Atlas app ($19.99) and other specialty atlas apps (Skeletal, Skin, Respiratory, etc.). For patients who are video-oriented, this type of education would be easy, time-efficient, and effective.

SonoAccess: Sonosite, the maker of ultrasound systems, recently released a free app called SonoAccess to help clinicians hone their ultrasound skills. It contains several case-specific videos of ultrasounds commonly performed in the ED, an excellent image gallery, and a news section that informs users of product updates. And if you lose your manual, no worries: The app has that, too.

1st Follow Up: There are about 11 apps available for electronic medical records, including one I developed myself: 1st Follow Up ($1.99). This app allows health care providers to keep records of patients they want to follow. It also allows you to obtain consent from a patient if you want to keep a copy of his x-ray. The app also will text you a reminder to check on a patient on your next shift.

This column is devoted to apps that can make the emergency physician's life easier, in and out of the emergency department.

Tell us about your favorite apps by writing to Dr. Castro at

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