CDC on Your iPad

Feb 13, 2012, 5:53 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

CDCiPad

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently launched an iPad version of the agency’s website. Carol Crawford, chief of the Electronic Media Branch at CDC, says the app, which is free, has been downloaded well over 5,000 times so far and has been well received.

What’s the advantage to all that content on a tablet? Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, founder and director of the Center for Connected Health in Boston, says, "these devices are always connected," and the mobility of the iPad is well suited to the CDC’s site, which often has late-breaking news on outbreaks and disease for consumers and health professionals. The information can be accessed more easily on the go in "tablet form." Kvedar says that while many iPad apps have been launched just as "gee whiz" sorts of features, accessing medical information on an iPad app can have a "just-in-time" feel that enhances accessibility and usability. And moving quickly among options such as podcasts that refer to a news item, or news that relates to a journal article—which the iPad app allows—can make it easier for users to take advantage of CDC’s many resources.

There are also tabs that give users quick access to social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube) and CDC will also be creating original content for the iPad app.

A key advantage to an iPad app for health professionals is that it’s very similar to reading a page of a printed journal, and reduces the need to tote the paper copies or print out pages. That’s a view shared by Dr. Kvedar and Howard Bauchner, MD, the new editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, who talked about that benefit in an interview with NewPublicHealth last year.

The CDC iPad app is also easily shareable by health professionals with patients to point out studies, guidelines and news. That shareable use of iPad content was highlighted frequently on the exhibit floor at the mHealth conference held outside Washington, D.C., late last year.

Weigh In: What advantages have you found to accessing CDC or other health data via iPad rather than on a computer?

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.