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A Physician's Perspective: Meaningful Use of Health Technology

Feb 18 2013   1:15PM GMT

Tablets and Windows 8 in Healthcare

Posted by: DrJosephKim
cpoe, EHR, iPad, mobile, tablet pc, windows 8

More and more doctors are starting to use tablet computers in the health care environment. The old era of Windows XP Tablet PCs are gone. Windows Vista and 7 didn’t generate enough momentum in the slate tablet market. It wasn’t until the Apple iPad that health care professionals started to seriously re-consider the use of these digital devices in the clinical setting. So, where are we today?

The first iPad was introduced in 2010. We’re now up to the 4th generation iPad (with various rumors circulating about the 5th gen iPad). We also have the iPad mini which was launched in 2012.

Hospitals and health systems are running enterprise-level electronic health records (EHRs) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems on Windows-based PCs. Yes, many hospitals are still running Windows XP. It’s hard to believe that they’ve survived this long on antiquated systems, but then again, they’re not running applications that require a huge amount of horsepower. At most, EHRs are data entry and data storage systems. You may have some clinical decision support built into the system, so you’ll see alerts and warnings pop up.

We’re living in an era of cloud-based computing, so the cloud provides us with limitless possibilities as long as you have a device that can leverage that cloud infrastructure effectively. The computing power of your native PC is becoming less relevant. However, the security features of mobile devices is becoming more important because of the high incidence of device theft or loss. Every month, we seem to see a story about a lost or stolen, unencrypted laptop that jeopardizes thousands of patient records. This is simply not acceptable.

So, where does that leave us in 2013? I believe we’ll see the newer Windows 8 tablets gaining significant momentum in the health care setting. These devices are thin, light, and they run full Windows 8. That means that they will run full EHR and CPOE applications. Physicians won’t be limited to “read-only” patient data. They will also be able to leverage the power of cloud-computing for voice recognition, data processing, and much more.

Personally, I find Windows 8 to be very exciting. I realize that it’s not a perfect operating system and that it can be challenging to blend traditional mouse and keyboard computing with touch-based computing. The landscape of mobile computing is evolving rapidly. I believe that the active digitizer stylus pen is coming back. I believe that people will become more comfortable with touch and voice-input. I believe that we’ll rely more on mobile devices and less on traditional desktop PCs.

This year, I’ll be attending the HIMSS conference and I’ll be exploring the rapidly evolving world of mobile computing, so stay tuned by following my updates on Twitter @DrJosephKim

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