If you are not already an “iPhone Doctor” then you are possibly thinking to switch to it. So let me help you make a more informed decision
The following points summarize some of the advantages and disadvantages of the iPhone versus the other Smartphones such as Palm, Blackberry, and Pocket PC
Cool: You will join the cool community! having an iPhone has grown to give the impression that you are cool, bright, updated, tech-minded, and fashion-oriented doctor. However, I have too say, that there are more and more “cool” devices coming in the other platforms, like for example T Mobile’s myTouch and Palm Pre and they all basically talk iPhone in that they have a large touch screen, slim design, supporting finger flips, fluidy smooth transitions of screen objects and pages ….etc
App Store: You will get an App Store that simply holds all the medical and non-medical applications in one shop. For Palm and Pocket PC you’d have to shop around for that particular software you are interested in. Blackberry, however, learned the trick and they recently created the Blackberry App World.
Medical Library: As opposed to few months ago, you are not going to miss any major medical app. Everybody is on board now, Epocrates, Skyscape, Unbound Medicine, Pepid, Medical Wizards and a host of all major medical PDA software developers. In fact, in certain examples, you will get apps that are not yet available in other platforms. This stems from the fact that there are now individual developers for the iPhone who have never thought of developing an app before the iPhone blast, take for example Mediquations, Medimath, and Lytes.
Ease of use: The iPhone OS is designed from the ground up to be simple to learn and to use. My niece told me that when she got her BB she spent hours trying to understand it and eventually she threw it away for the next day while when she got her new iPhone 3GS she learned everything she needs to do in less than an hour. I even believe that Apple intentionally missed some of the more advanced features in the initial generations to make it simpler for people to get acquainted with it and then to add those extras later on like MMS, blue tooth pairing, GPS, copy and paste.. etc. That’s smart isn’t it? Speaking of the simplicity, you now have medical schools pushing their students and residents to use it [for example the University of Virginia Mobile health system].
Cost effectiveness: Despite the fact that the iPhone costs more when you first buy it compared to others, on the long run you may spend less. Here’s why: First, there is a tremendously increasing trend of free and low cost apps in the App Store, take for example Skyscape Medical Bag and Pepid Elements, both of these two apps are not available for the other platforms. Second, in my personal experience, iPhone tends to crash far less than the others and so you are less likely to pay for your tech repair bills.
No stylus: I regard this as an advantage. Most of us would like to take the PDA out from the white coat, find out something quickly, and then putting it back. Obviously, this is more cumbersome if you have to use both hands and much easier done single handedly with the tip of the thumb doing the action only. Yet, Palm Pre and the newer Pocket PC devices have started to support more and more the single hand functionality.
No file support: Doctors tend to write their notes and drafts on MS Word and their clinical trial data on a spreadsheets such as MS Excel and would like to read journal articles that are usually PDF files and perhaps want to rehearse their MS Power Point presentation. Unfortunately, none of these file extensions are supported by the iPhone OS. In addition, the iPhone OS is configured in such a way that makes file storage and sharing inherently difficult. For example, iSilo documents are very difficult to transfer to the iPhone.
Not all medical apps: Yes, I said that most developers have already established their iPhone apps but this does not holds true for all. Still the Palm and Windows Mobile libararies are significantly larger than the medical iPhone library. Even some major developers such as USBMIS and UpToDate are not yet there on the iPhone.
AT&T Exclusive: So far, in the US, the only carrier that provides iPhone is AT&T. This is a great limitation when it comes to freedom of choice. For Palm, Blackberry, and PPC we can virtually choose any of the major US carriers to carry our smartphone of choice. See I want an iPhone without AT&T post.
Limited storage capacity: Although there are 32GB iPhone devices but still the storage is limited. You don’t have a memory card expansion. This will translate into unwanted cost should you need only 2 GB or limitation in case you’d like to have more than 32GB to store videos and images [although 32 gigs is extremely high and more than enough speaking of medical apps only].