Doctors Whine About iPads

Instead of adopting new technology, medical professionals gripe that tablets don't fit in lab coat pockets

A recent article on Shots, NPR’s health blog, bemoaned the lack of tablets in American hospitals. It would be quite costly to convert current medical records into a a format compatible with iPads, so many hospitals haven’t yet adopted the technology despite the obvious benefits for patient care.

Totally reasonable, right? Money sucks everywhere these days and that sounds like a big, aggravating project. What is not totally reasonable are the supplementary reasons why tablets can’t be adopted in hospitals.

One medical professional—who has started incorporating a tablet into her work—whined, “The iPad doesn’t fit in the pocket of a standard white lab coat.” How inconvenient it must be for doctors and nurses to use their hands to carry things! (If this were written on Twitter, I’d be searching for the #firstworldproblems hashtag.)

Another reason: “Sometimes there are moments when you want to check your email and possibly update your Facebook, and it does take willpower to not be distracted.” It also takes willpower not to sucker-punch the loud talker in the movie theater and to skip the lunch cocktail on a bad day, but somehow most of us manage to muster up the strength to keep on keepin’ on. (I guess it’s good that line wasn’t written on Twitter, since it might have distracted a brain surgeon.)

It’s frustrating to see these excuses highlighted as reasons not to adapt to modern technology. In order for our world to grow, we must accept and adopt new technologies where appropriate. Could any journalist have predicted how the iPhone would change media? Can you imagine going to a medical office without a computer? What if you couldn’t pay the plumber on your credit card? Almost without exception, technology makes our lives better, not worse.

Medical professionals, especially, should be open to the newest technologies, since the outcome of their work—actual life and death situations—directly benefits from innovation. Instead of bellyaching about inconveniently sized pockets and Facebook temptations, perhaps they should start thinking about how the iPad could make their patients happier, healthier and more aware.