Thinking about getting an Apple iPad to do your documentation in the clinic? There are a few important things to consider before investing your hard earned money in an iPad,  especially with clinical use in mind. We all know that the iPad does not come cheap, so to prevent any buyer’s remorse we have created this buying guide to make sure you get the iPad that is right for you in the clinic.  Following this guide will get you up and running with the best iPad possible in no time.

How Much Memory to Buy?

Many consumers get confused by the three memory sizes available that Apple currently offers. This refer to the storage space that comes with each model: 16GB, a 32GB, and 64GB memory. The iPad was made to store photos and music and these size differences refer to that functionality. Unless you are saving thousands of PDFs, you could potentially get away with the 16GB of storage space. If you use a web-based EMR, like WebPT, then you need not pay the $100 upgrade for more storage, because most, if not all, of your business files will be stored on WebPT servers.

Wi-Fi or 3G Internet?

The biggest dilemma for most is  whether or not you want the Wi-Fi enabled or the 3G version of the iPad.  This is really going to depend on where you are going to be using your iPad the most. If your clinic has secure Wi-Fi and that is the only location that you will be utilizing the iPad, then the Wi-Fi only version is perfect. If your clinic is currently hardwired to the internet, you can easily ask your network administrator to set up a wireless router for use with iPad.

The 3G version comes with the Wi-Fi capability “built-in” and works as long as you have purchased a month to month data plan from AT&T or Verizon Wireless. The only difference between the Wi-Fi and the 3G is the addition of a GPS sensor. If you plan on using your iPad while sitting at your local coffee shop or in a clinic without wireless then you may want the 3G coverage. This service will essentially allow you to work from anywhere. With 3G service and WebPT’s integrated faxing, you can actually send documents to referring physicians from the Tee-Box of your local golf course if you like. This can really open up the possibilities of your professional life and give you some much welcomed freedom. Because the data plans come as a month to month option, you don’t have to worry much about paying for service that you won’t use.

Buy Now or Wait?

Apple has tangible plans to release a Second Generation iPad around the end of the first quarter of 2011. There is still some speculation regarding the date, but it is no doubt that Apple constantly releases new versions of their already widespread hardware (see iPod). This may be something to consider as well. Perhaps waiting for the newest version of a $500+ piece of technology might not be such a bad idea.

Ultimately, which iPad you purchase is going to have a lot to do with your needs as a practitioner. Considering the capabilities of your EMR will also have a lot to do with the decision you make.