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Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Here Come the Tablets! -- for healthcare professionals and the clinical enterprise

Here Come the Tablets! -- for healthcare professionals and the clinical enterprise

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This Wednesday, Apple is expected to unveil the iPad2.  Of course, the iPad1 has been flying off the shelves since it was introduced last year.  There is no question the iPad has dominated the consumer market for a new generation of Tablets.  It will be interesting to see what is new and improved in the iPad2.  I have no doubt that iPad sales are slowing a bit right now as consumers wait to see what the iPad2 has to offer.

WP_000030The frenzy over Tablet computers is a bit amusing to me.  I’ve been using Tablet computers since I joined Microsoft in 2002.  To be sure, Apple has done wonders to stimulate new interest in the form factor, especially among consumers.  And since clinicians are also consumers, it is no wonder that iPads have found their way into hospitals and clinics.

Last week at HIMSS in Orlando, I ran into many clinicians and hospital IT Pros who wanted to talk about Tablet computers.  It was clear that many of them were big fans of the iPad (and rightly so), but their fan enthusiasm was starting to wear thin especially for clinicians seeking to use  iPad devices in the clinical enterprise.  The reason for this falls along the lines of what I said in my previous post from HIMSS about some of the big EMR vendors at the show—the platform matters.

Thankfully, there are already a variety of very good Tablet devices that work on the Windows platform, and more are coming to market every few weeks.  Some of these Tablets have been designed expressly for clinical workers, and all of them are likely to be more flexible and easier to integrate with the typical IT infrastructure found in most hospitals and clinics today.

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I had a chance to get my hands on a few of these new Tablets, and I must say I was both surprised and impressed.  Despite some people saying that it would be 2012 before there were really great choices in Tablets for the Windows platform, I found the ones I saw at HIMSS to be quite compelling.  Examples included machines from Prolink, Motion, TabletKiosk, Panasonic, and Tangent.  The machines offered a variety of screen sizes, excellent ergonomics, light weight, impressive touch navigation, good battery life, the expansion and connection slots people have come to expect, and most importantly the platform, software, interoperability, security, and ease of integration required by today’s healthcare environments.

For those who will immediately accuse me of iPad-bashing, please don’t waste your time.  I would be first to say that the iPad has set a benchmark for Tablet devices and stimulated renewed market interest in this important form factor.  However, as many clinicians and IT Pros have discovered, what works for consumers doesn’t always translate to industrial use.  That has certainly been the experience for many clinicians trying to use their shiny new iPads for patient care and clinical computing especially in enterprise environments.

Bill Crounse, MD                                Senior Director, Worldwide Health                       Microsoft

 

  • As a TabletPC user in my clinic since 1996 (Gridpad etc.), I still yearn for a form factor like the iPad that is capable of business use with it's concomittant need for data input.

    www.MedicalTabletPC.com

  • Good article. Excellent point about what's good for the consumer should be good for the clinician, right? I'm seeing an increasing demand for Tablets from clinicians who want that iPad look/feel but designed for the enterprise - and boy is it a struggle. Hopefully things will improve in the coming months.

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