News 2/8/10

From Boomer: “Re: iPad. I continue to believe that if Apple put a simple 1D bar code reader on the iphone or iPad that they could open the door to all types of industrial applications.  Cost to do this would be minimal.” You bring up a great point about adding additional functionality on the iPhone or iPad.  In the old days (at least as far as mobile devices are concerned), we used to be totally dependent on the IrDA ports to transfer data wirelessly. There was a point when device manufacturers were moving away from Ir – because it was no longer en vogue in the consumer market. It was roughly at the same time that high speed Ir was becoming available. On one hand the technology was available to really make Ir communication compelling, and on the other device manufacturers were dropping it altogether.  I was convinced, at the time, that it was to save pennies on each device. I made many frustrated phone calls trying to convince manufacturers that not only was the IrDA port important to healthcare, but to all of enterprise mobility.  Thank goodness WiFi had such rapid penetration.

iPad image

Not sure if you’ve seen the teardown guesstimates on the iPad. Brian Marshall of BroadPoint AmTech has speculated that the 16GB, WiFi-only iPad costs Apple $270.50, leaving $208 in profit per device. At some level, you have to believe that a great deal of thought has gone into the relative value of additional features versus the price elasticity of demand.  I think this just goes to show how these devices, despite their potential in any given industry, are totally beholden to the consumer market.

But it’s not all bad.  If you consider what an industry-specific, customized device would cost – it wouldn’t be the $499 plus $2.72 for the bar code reader.  It would be back to an untenable price-point. 

I understand that there are several 1D and 2D barcode reading solutions for the iPhone that utilize the phone’s built-in camera.  I don’t know how well these solutions work.  Of course, the iPad does not have a camera which itself has generated groans from numerous would-be business users…

In the news…

Even without a barcode scanner, Epocrates survey results show 20% of physicians ready to purchase iPad, and up to 60% interested. Epocrates surveyed more than 350 clinicians following Apple’s announcement of the iPad. Needless to say, Epocrates is customizing its clinical reference application for the tablet. The survey, while confirming popularity among private purchasers, does not provide any insight into healthcare enterprise buying.

Unbound Medicine

Unbound Medicine announces the release of Relief Central, a free disaster relief resource developed for relief workers, first responders, and others helping in the field. The application includes: The World Factbook from the CIA, The Field Operations Guide from USAID, MEDLINE Journals, and Relief News.

Mobile MPR

Monthly Prescribing Reference (MPR) now available for iPhone. The free application includes information on more than 4,000 drugs, as well as a dosing calculator, MPR’s daily drug news, weekly reports on new product launches and drug safety alerts, as well as promotional education videos.


Federal Chief Technology Officer announces Text4Baby messaging service. The free service is supported by a public-private partnership, including most major wireless carriers. To join Text4Baby, an expectant mother only needs to text "baby," or "bebe" in Spanish, to 511411. Subscribers will get three text messages each week at no charge on content timed to a baby’s due date or date of birth and focused on a variety of topics.

Federal Communications Commission to promote mobile health apps as part of its broadband plan.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) called for the FCC to develop a plan for establishing broadband connections to the Internet as a way to spur business development, job creation and improvements in healthcare. The plan will describe where the government has a role to reduce hurdles and promote innovation. The FCC expects to release its broadband plan next month.


Siri launches ‘Do Engine’ for the iPhone. Unlike traditional search engines, the Siri Virtual Personal Assistant uses cognitive software combined with advanced speech recognition to perform, or ‘do’ tasks. Siri, Inc., which was spun out of a Stanford University research lab a couple of years ago, has raised about $24 million from Menlo Ventures and Morgenthaler Ventures. 

AT4 Wireless completes testing of first Bluetooth Manager for Continua Health Alliance Certification. AT4 Wireless, a wireless certification and testing laboratory, completed certification testing on the Toshiba Bluetooth Stack for Windows – which now has the honor of being the first Continua Certified Manager.

  • For about a year, Apple Store sales people have been ringing customers up with handhelds. In the beginning they used Symbol devices. Now they use iPod Touch’s with 1-D barcode scanners. These are not available beyond instore applications, however, I suggest you hold the iPhone on this one.

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