Gary Oftedahl: iPad, iMyGoodness
In what seems to be a distant past post, I expressed my exuberant feelings about my exposure to the iPhone. (http://bit.ly/12j8nH). In the past nine months, my interest in the use of this technology in health care, not to mention life, has continued. It is that interest, aligned with my personal version of ADHD, which now leaves me with more than 160 applications on my iPhone. While many of them are “intellectually inactive,” I continue to ponder the impact of this technology on a non-techie baby boomer like myself.
In animated conversations with others who experienced the purchase of an iPhone, we all relate the universal sensation of a tectonic shift in our lifestyle, not just an incremental change. In fact, I rarely use my iPhone for calls (it’s not my favorite application, so to speak) but it’s totally altered my routines and expectations. In fact, I’m becoming aware of the fact that if I’m more than three feet from my iPhone, I start to experience signs of anxiety, withdrawal, and apprehension.
So in early 2010, when Steve Jobs announced the impending release of the iPad, I had two responses. First, who in the world was in the room when they decided to pick a name? I could have put together a group of fourth graders who would have raised issues with that choice. But along with that was a reaction based on my iPhone experience—if the iPhone could be such a transformational experience, what might the iPad do to my mindset? Would this be another Newton, would it be the Edsel of technology, did the term Segway come to mind?
I’d decided to wait for the second or third iteration, basing my thoughts on past experiences with new evolving technologies—initial high cost, bugs needing to be fixed, lack of application to life in general. But my wife, in her wonderful way of driving life, but also likely due to her interest in the new “toy,” notified me she’d ordered one to be delivered on April 3. Of course, I expressed concern to her about the expenditure, but noticed an underlying sense of excitement, anticipated pleasure, intrigue—similar to many previous Christmas seasons.
So, now I’ve had the iPad for almost a month (at least when I can pry it from the hands of my spouse) and the verdict for me is in. While not as obvious as the iPhone, this device is “magical”, wondrous, and almost mystical. For someone who comes from a scientific background, that sounds less than objective and analytic, but I’m convinced that once many of us can move away from our innate assumptions about what personal computers and hand-held devices should be (where’s the mouse, where’s the keyboard, why doesn’t it multitask, etc.), we will begin to consider and contemplate how this might totally alter how we use information technology.
Time does not permit me to go into detail, and in reality, it’s still not totally clear to me how this will exactly impact us generally, and specifically in health care. However, as with several others I’ve connected with, while we’re not quite sure of how this will fit in to our lives, we can’t imagine being without it—-and that’s after only four weeks of exposure.
Briefly, the media applications are dazzling (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, ABC, Netflix, Reuters, BBC, AP News, Time, Marvel Comics, etc.). Video gaming, not my forte, but still early in development here, will be transformed by the high resolution, and sense of total immersion which one experiences (Pinball HD, RealRacingHD, Moonlight, to name a few). I even sprung $5 for a program called Star Walk, and without going into detail, you have to experience this to understand how I will never look at the night sky in the same way again. While presently there are somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 applications, it’s just the beginning. Streaming Netflix to the device while sitting in a WiFi environment begins to enhance the immediacy of access to previously limited venues.
I could go on, but will offer this. As I follow the evolving discussions regarding the iPad (by the way there’s a free application—Appolicious—which continues to expose me to new ideas and thoughts about the iPad), here’s my reading—those of us in health care will now even more than ever need to expand our thinking about how we will use these types of devices in the transformation of health care. While still struggling to get our arms and minds around the use of smart phones, the iPad may challenge us to move far beyond that, and rapidly. Understand, it may not be the iPad itself, but the technology and access it represents which is critical for us to contemplate as we design our new processes, and build our “health care homes.” All one has to do is join the Glee network being developed on iPad (yes, based on the popular TV show) to understand the potential for this in the evolution of social networks.
I encourage an open mind, but also an open heart and open will, in thinking about how we might be ahead of the wave, or at least riding the back part, in considering how we might use this new “toy.” Consider how it’s changed the life of a 99-year-old woman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndkIP7ec3O8) and you’ll begin to look at this in new ways. Consider the use of an iPad by Lang Lang in a concert with the San Francisco Symphony in playing “The Flight of the Bumblebee” and you’ll begin to experience the shifting thinking that may indeed lead to a new paradigm. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvplGbCBaLA). Enjoy the ride, it’s a bit of a roller coaster, but if a baby boomer like me, who never figured out how to successful program my VHS machine, can be engaged, what are the possibilities?