Gary Oftedahl: iPad, iMyGoodness

May 3, 2010 at 8:43 am 8 comments

In what seems to be a distant past post, I expressed my exuberant feelings about my exposure to the iPhone. (  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 ( 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.  (  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?

Entry filed under: General Info, Health 2.0, Health Care Redesign. Tags: .

Kent Bottles: Conflict and Tension Due to Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers Working Together in Health Care Kent Bottles: Colloquium on Health Care Transformation


  • 1. Bonnie Kavanagh RN, Geriatric Care Manager  |  May 3, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Oh Gary, don’t get me started. I want one. I had it all rationalized that I would wait for the 2nd generation… now this tease. The Utube of the (almost) Centurion… oh my.

    I will be guest presenting at our local Area On Ageing Council meeting on Social Media this month. I will use the UTube link of your research of the IPad; I can hear the ooo’s and ahhh’s now…

    I hear the apps. potential are going to be incredible for drug and research information.

    All I can say is: “I want one”. Let me know if you hear of some contest where the winner gets an IPad as a prize (and I am on it)…

    • 2. Gary Oftedahl  |  May 6, 2010 at 8:48 am


      Thanks for the comments, and I feel your pain. I’ll keep my eyes open and see what opportunities arise. Or perhaps I can work a deal for you when I try to move to the second iteration….this one might be available at a good discount–if I can get it away from my wife.

      The apps are phenomenal, and the ones yet to be developed will likely be even more so.


  • 3. medical stuff  |  May 3, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    One thing I like about blog posts is the fact that they provoke an idea in my brain. And once that happens, I feel as I have to comment expecting it will be pleasant to others. Since there are various blogs with many different points of view, they test your understanding. It’s at these occasions when you have valuable insignt many others may not have had, together with the blogger him/herself. I find myself coming back to to your blogs simply because you have plenty of awesome insights and you are already at this a long time, that’s very impressive and tells me you know your stuff. Keep triggering imagination in others!

    • 4. Gary Oftedahl  |  May 6, 2010 at 8:49 am

      Thanks for your kind comments. It’s nice to hear that someone is reading and valuing what are often random thoughts. It is my hope I can continue to “trigger imagination” both in others but also in myself.


  • 5. Victor Montori  |  May 4, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Completely agree about the potential of this platform for consuming and producing content on the fly, access rich content almost everywhere, and still look like a human being. A big fan here as well.

  • 6. Gary Oftedahl  |  May 6, 2010 at 8:50 am


    In your world of shared decision making, patient engagement, this would seem to be a platform just screaming for innovation. Would love to talk more about it at some time.


  • […] knowledge officer at the nonprofit Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement, is a fan — he blogged rapturously about the iPad, saying that after a few weeks of use, he can’t imagine being […]

  • 8. lifedrivedoc  |  May 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Excellent article Gary. We have a physician in town who bought several and is doing EMR with it. I have not seen it yet, but this would seem like a good system for offices that utilize a alot of form based notes. I am interested in getting one, but would want one without lag, thus I would have to buy the 64 gb one with 3G. That seems like a lot of money to pay for a v1 product. Hence, I am on the sidelines for a little while longer.

    Excellent post again.

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