Slates for Doctors? Where Apple’s Tablet Makes Dollars and Sense

In some interesting tablet news that falls a little off the well-trod rumors path, Apple (s aapl) officials have apparently paid a visit to LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center a few times to talk up the potential of an Apple tablet in terms of the medical field. VentureBeat is reporting that these visits have been confirmed by Jason Wilk, an entrepreneur whose father plays golf with Cedars-Sinai executives.

It makes sense for Apple to test the waters in non-consumer markets where tablets have found some purchase in the past. The iPhone is making gains in enterprise, and is even used by many doctors because of the low cost and good design of a variety of medical database apps available on the device’s App Store.

Combining that kind of knowledge repository with a device that can replace a clipboard and act as a connected link to the hospital’s central database would obviously be something that might appeal to doctors. It would reduce the need for extraneous devices and trips back and forth from a central nursing station where information is collected and stored, and could conceivably lower wait times and increase patient turnover, an important concern in privatized health care.

Add to that the fact that even at the fairly high price that’s been rumored lately, around $1,000, the Apple slate would be a bargain. Currently, the Motion Computing C5 is one of the more successful devices in the medical tablet space, one that isn’t yet very crowded either. The C5 costs double the proposed price of the Apple tablet, a full $2,000 per unit. Specialized software for the device can add significantly to the overall cost health organizations end up paying for the tech.

If Apple manages to break into the medical market, and other industrial and commercial fields where tablet tech is useful, then the sales projections that have been floating around begin to make sense. One to one and a half million units per quarters seemed like an awful ambitious figure for the consumer market alone, especially for a device that seems to fit a very specific market niche. But imagine interactive exhibits at museums and exhibitions, self-service at retail chains and outlets, and, as we’ve just been discussing, doctors making rounds. In all of the above, an Apple tablet, at $1,000 or less, becomes a very sensible business proposition, especially if it makes use of the App Store platform for software, which should make it relatively inexpensive to source and develop custom applications to suit any and all needs.