New iPad Boasts Faster Load Times, Better Resolution, but Researcher Urges Caution

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The high-resolution retinal display on the new iPad will speed its adoption by physicians, predicts mobile medical app reviewer iMedicalApps. Apple’s latest tablet has a 9.7-inch screen with a 2048x1536 resolution, a faster processor, and more memory. However, physicians should be cautious in their diagnostic use of iPads, says Mark McEntee, PhD, a researcher from the University of Sydney. McEntee recently presented his findings on the subject at the International Society for Optical Engineering medical imaging conference last month. In an interview with Imagingbiz, he described the insufficient luminescence of a device like the iPad in viewing grayscale images as compared with that of a diagnostic workstation. Moreover, he said, there are a host of other issues that come into play when viewing medical information on a portable device, including environmental conditions, security, and unprofessional distractions. iPads are “absolutely acceptable for tasks such as those that are commonly performed on off-the-shelf monitors; a quick check of a known fracture, for instance,” McEntee says. “But they certainly aren’t good enough for the diagnosis of something subtle, like a lung nodule in a chest x-ray,” he says. “My fear is that just because people can see the image on the iPad, they think that any device can be used for diagnosis.” McEntee takes exception to the zeal with which he says early adopters have clung to Apple's marketing language and the potential impact that may have on practitioners. "The perception out there from some of the advertising that Apple did, saying that for a doctor it’s a can’t get so overconfident with it," he said. "It’s not a revolution; it’s nothing like a revolution. It can be used to view images, but that doesn’t mean it should."