HealthBlog

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.

The perfect device(s) for clinical computing? We’re getting closer all the time.

The perfect device(s) for clinical computing? We’re getting closer all the time.

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imageLast December, as I was preparing for meetings with Microsoft OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I posted a blog piece titled, “If you could design the perfect computing device for clinicians and clinical workflow, what would you ask for?”  I ended the post by writing….

……recognizing that no single device can meet all your needs, if you had an opportunity to tell device manufacturers what’s missing from todays solutions that you’d like to see in future devices, what would you tell them?  I’ll be sure to vet as many of your ideas as possible when I meet with the OEM community at CES next month.

That piece must have struck a chord with readers, especially those of you who are clinicians.  Over the ensuing months, it garnered more than 165,000 views making it one of the most-read HealthBlog posts ever.  Here is a sampling of some of the feedback that I received.

One clinician quite rightfully noted;

“My experience is that the problem is not at the device layer, it is actually the application (not OS) support for different interfaces like touch. Look an iPad is great, just like the new Dell Latitude ST, the problem is that the PACS, RIS app or the EMR, ED or surgical app just isn't designed for a tablet ecosystem.”

Another clinician responded;

“As a clinician I can tell you that your focus on devices is not the issue, the issue today is documentation time and cost…… I also think Steve Jobs was wrong about a stylus and Bill Gates was correct, it has a role in healthcare. We spend hours writing and then more hours dictating what we took notes on. It would be great to write on a tablet on electronic forms (created with InfoPath, Adobe software, etc.) and have software that converts the hand writing to digital accurately and puts it into the EHR. Hence hours of time and money saved.”

One doctor had this to say;

“I couldn't agree more that getting input right is the key to this. Too many clinicians spend time tapping on their keyboard and not focusing on their patient - it really disrupts that important part of medicine. I agree that writing is key and the big failure of the iPad for healthcare is the lack of an accurate stylus (although it succeeds in many other areas).  I also agree that speech and gestures etc. are key. We do need all day battery life. We also need something that is suitably portable and also robust enough to survive clinical practice. The technology is finally catching up with the great ideas from 10 years ago, but is it there yet?”

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With the launch of Windows 8 just around the corner, many of the OEM partners that I spoke with last January are beginning to release information about their newest devices.  Over the last few weeks or so there’s been news from Dell, Sony, Visio, HP, Asus, Lenovo, and others about the next generation of touch-enabled desktops, laptops, ultrabooks, and tablets that will be running Windows 8 or Windows 8 RT.  Many of you will recall that Microsoft itself will be offering some cool new slate tablet devices known as Surface computers beginning with a Windows 8 RT device toward the end of October, and a full-blown Windows 8 Pro device about three months after that.

We are also working closely with many of our ISV EMR partners and content providers who will optimize their solutions for Windows 8 and will also contribute to a growing library of apps for Windows 8 devices.  Frankly, I’m blown away by how much progress the industry has made just since this time last year.  I’m confident that in the months ahead clinicians will enjoy far greater choice, and improved usability, in the devices they depend on for clinical computing.  We may not quite have the “Tricorder” yet, but we are getting closer all the time.

Bill Crounse, MD                    Senior Director, Worldwide Health                    Microsoft  

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