BEST OF THE WEB: How the iPad is changing the medical industry

When second-year medicine resident Nancy Luo emailed Steve Jobs about a project she was working on tracking how iPads are changing hospitals, she didn’t expect a response.

But the next morning, she got a call from an Apple employee in Chicago who told her Jobs had forwarded her email, and that he was being sent to help with her research.

“Your email was forwarded to me for follow up from Steve,” wrote Afshad Mistri, Apple’s medical market manager.

As it turns out, Mistri has been working with hospitals across the United States to integrate Apple’s technology into the industry. And as this piece on Wired shows, he’s had quite an impact.

In fact, his name is becoming a regular mention at hospitals that are using iPads, as he fosters relationships with doctors who want to use the company’s technology. But it’s the fact that Apple has a dedicated employee for this market is intriguing, as radiology professor Elliot Fishman points out.

“Just the fact that he exists, that there’s a director for medical marketing, tells you it’s different because Apple never does vertical markets,” he said. “The fact that two years ago they assigned someone to that position tells you there is a difference.”

So what exactly is the iPad doing for doctors?

This piece argues that for some, it can save them a bunch of time – up to an hour and a half every day. Instead of printing out medical reports or looking through stacks of paper, doctors just need to look up a file on the iPad and away they go.

Others argue that it helps them create a relationship with patients. “Their biggest fear is what if we took it away,” Fishman said.

“Hospitals aren’t speedy adopters of new computer technology, but the iPad has freed up doctors to read papers and look up information no matter where they are — at home, while traveling, or doing hospital rounds.”

They’re popping up everywhere. In Canada, the Ottawa Hospital has 3,000 iPads in use, and Apple is keen to get them into more places – perhaps the push comes from Jobs’ own illness, but it’s impossible to say.

“People in computer science are always interested in medical imaging,” Fishman told Wired. “They always like to think that, you know, maybe Angry Birds is good but something medical might actually change the world.”

The age of apps 

Each week films, television shows and songs are released on the internet – but apps outstrip them all. In fact, as this piece in the New York Times shows, there are more than 15,000 apps hitting markets every week.

It’s no secret we’re in a world dominated by mobile apps, but surely they are now controlling how the mobile industry works. The piece interviews Anindya Datta, the founder of a service called Mobilewalla, which tracks mobile markets and how many apps are released.

“By any measure, the rise in apps is striking. In October 2008 the known app universe was 8,000 Apple titles. Mobilewalla was formed that year to provide a website for users to search for mobile apps, and to categorise and rank them.”

“Mobilewalla began analysing Android and Windows apps in 2009, and added BlackBerry a year later. The 100,000-app milestone was passed in December 2009. In little more than a year, the total passed 500,000 and exceeded 750,000 six months after that. Five months later: one million.”

The mobile market is a permanent fixture of technology now. Businesses now need to understand it better than ever before. While two years ago there may have been an excuse for hesitating, the new data is clear – apps must be part of your business strategy. 

The last of us without Facebook

Believe it or not, there are still plenty of people who don’t have a Facebook profile – and they’d like to keep it that way.

This piece over at the New York Times takes a quick look at some users who either abandoned their profiles, or who have never made them in the first place. It’s all part of a minor backlash against social media, with users thinking it provides the façade of a social connection without any of the effort. 

“I wasn’t calling my friends anymore,” Ashleigh Elser told the publication. “I was just seeing their pictures and updates and felt like that was really connecting to them.”

But more than just a social trend, it could represent a problem for the social network = its traffic growth was just 10% in October, compared to 56% in the previous corresponding period.

“They’re likely more worried about the novelty factor wearing off,” Gartner analyst Ray Valdes said. “That’s a continual problem that they’re solving, and there are no permanent solutions.”

Facebook is certainly dominating the social networking scene, but as this piece demonstrates, they definitely can’t get everyone.

Facial recognition software on the rise

IT experts have been waiting to see how facial recognition technology could change advertising and marketing, and it seems their wishes may be granted. Over at CNN, there’s a piece on how facial recognition technology is changing how we shop.

There are some fascinating examples. An Intel AIM suite uses facial detection to tailor ads to a consumer’s age or gender, which in turn sends data back to advertisers about what types of people are walking through certain stores.

There’s another app called SceneTap that hooks up cameras in a nightclub or bar, detects how many people of which gender are attending, and then sends that information back to the establishment.

There’s a lot of work going on this area, and it could change the way marketing and advertising works – best to get up-to-date before the trend soon catches on.

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