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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.

Advances in devices and clinical mobility, why Windows matters

Advances in devices and clinical mobility, why Windows matters

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In my role at Microsoft, I spend a lot of time in meetings with very senior healthcare executives and clinical leaders from all over the world. I frequently get asked, "What is the perfect computing device for doctors, nurses and others working in healthcare?” Of course there is no such thing as the “perfect” device. Any device will have pros and cons. Furthermore, the best device for any clinician really depends on how and where it’s going to be used. You’ll find lots of HealthBlog posts I’ve done over the years on this particular topic. Today, I want to draw your attention to two noteworthy articles that highlight why many clinicians and IT leaders are becoming such big fans of the new generation of tablet computers running Windows.

imageFirst, I draw your attention to a blog post from my colleague, Gareth Hall. Like me, Gareth has spent his life around healthcare. Prior to coming to Microsoft, Gareth was an IT leader with the NHS in the UK. He is therefore well accustomed to hearing the often genuine concerns of cranky physicians about the devices and software they use in clinical practice. In his blog post, he cites three “customer favorites” about tablet devices running Windows 8.1—the ability to run two (or more) apps side by side; the ability to run classic Windows applications (like your enterprise EMR); and the well recognized security and management capabilities of the Windows platform in enterprise healthcare settings. Learn more here.

Any one of these attributes would be enough to please many users. Taken together they make strong case. And Gareth doesn’t even touch on some of the other things I’m hearing from my physician colleagues, not the least of which is choice. Today, there are literally dozens of beautiful, well engineered, user-friendly devices from a wide variety of manufacturers in all screen sizes and shapes, that will delight both clinical end-users and IT professionals who are charged with keeping patient information safe and secure in our hospitals and clinics.

imageOK, but how does this translate to what is going on in the real world of healthcare? For that perspective, I call your attention to an article just released in Information Week. It looks at the experience of a large pediatric group practice in the Pacific Northwest. There, doctors are using Microsoft’s own Surface tablet devices along with an app designed by their enterprise EMR vendor, Greenway, to provide care for their patients from the moment they come into the world. Using Greenway’s PrimeMobile app on Windows Surface devices, early surveys suggest the doctors are saving about one minute on data entry tasks during a typical 10 minute patient encounter.

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard doctors say they are saving time by using a great app on a Windows tablet computer. In fact, one of the most common things I hear from doctors is that they are saving enough time to see one or two more patients a day, AND they are going home at the end of the day without taking work home with them. Any doctor will tell you that is a big deal.

As more EMR apps, clinical reference materials, and other tools become available on Windows tablet devices, I fully expect more and more clinicians will find great devices for what they need to do. If you are shopping for a new computer, be sure to check out the tablets now available from Dell, Panasonic, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Fujitsu, HP, Surface, Nokia, and others running Windows. You’ll be glad you did.

Bill Crounse, MD         Senior Director, Worldwide Health             Microsoft

  • I'd have to argue something else - the EHR has to drive the mobility and not the device. I've spent 10+ years in a major US hospital doing mobility/end user devices and the major obstacle was the EHR. Sure, I could use a Surface or any other device to connect to the EMR, but the experience wasn't made easier for the caregiver. An end-user device should make your life easier and allow you to spend more time with the patient, not spending your time futzing around with data entry and having to navigate a bad experience.

    I'd be more than happy to give you some feedback from what I saw in my years of supplying physicians with tools that were supposed to make their lives easier if you have contact info available...

  • Nick,

    Thanks for writing. You won't find an argument from me. If you looked, you would find that another frequent theme here on HealthBlog is the need for better, faster, more user-friendly, less expensive, EMR/HIS solutions. As software moves to the cloud and becomes a service, and as devices continue to mature with better user interfaces, data input options and connectivity, we will finally arrive at solutions that truly satisfy clinical end users who today are often frustrated with the technologies they are being asked to use.

    Bill Crounse, MD.

  • Let us caregivers know when we can use our preferred form of a web service to read prescription pharmacy data these cockroaches refuse to provide access to.

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