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Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 10:10 am PT (01:10 pm ET)

California hospital plans to utilize 100 Apple iPads

A California hospital plans to distribute more than 100 Apple iPads among its health care workers to allow them look at X-ray images, EKG results and more on the portable touchscreen device, according to a new report.

Nick Volosin, director of technical services at Kaweah Health Care District in Visalia, Calif., told Network World that he bought three iPads for testing, and plans to implement more than 100 at the facility in the next two months. Various patient monitoring programs will be accessed through Citrix virtual desktop and application delivery software. Using the Citrix Receiver, the hospital will be able to have its workers access desktop applications without writing proprietary software for the iPad.

The iPads will be distributed to home health care and hospice workers, nurses, dietitians and pharmacists. Because tight supply has forced Apple to turn down volume orders, the hospital had to work with Apple directly to make such a large purchase.

Volosin told author Jon Brodkin that the iPad and its 10-hour battery life will replace a laptop for many employees, particularly because it will eliminate the need to charge multiple times throughout the day, and it doesn't need to be turned on and off. In addition to patient-related services, employees will also be able to use the device to do traditional office tasks like check their e-mail.

Another selling point for the iPad: the price. Starting at $500 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, Volosin reportedly said that it is a more affordable option when compared to a traditional touchscreen tablet, which can cost as much as $3,000.

In addition to Volosin's three test units, about 20 doctors have purchased their own iPads to use at the office. One kidney specialist said the device has made him more efficient and also improved patient safety.

Many hospitals have eyed Apple's iPad since the device was first announced earlier this year. Some health care workers believe tablet computers help doctors and nurses spend more time with patients. One San Francisco program dubbed "Destination Bedside" uses tablet computers to provide X-rays, charts, prescriptions and notes.

In February, one study found that one in five physicians intended to buy an iPad, just days after it was announced. Epocrates Inc.'s survey of more than 350 clinicians found that 9 percent would buy an iPad when it became available, while another 13 percent intend to buy one in the first year. Another 38 percent said they were interested in the iPad, but wanted more information before they would decide whether or not to purchase.