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A Physician's Perspective: Meaningful Use of Health Technology

Mar 30 2013   8:33PM GMT

Windows 8 in enterprise healthcare

Posted by: DrJosephKim
cpoe, dell, EHR, HP, iPad, lenovo, tablet pc, windows 8

Over the past several weeks, I had had the opportunity to test several tablets running Windows 8 Pro. Don’t get these mixed up with the consumer tablets running Windows RT. Windows 8 Pro is an enterprise operating system that actually blends two operating systems into a single device. Imagine picking up an iPad where with a swipe of a finger, you get a fully functional Windows 7 desktop experience. Well, that’s what Windows 8 is like. You get the ability to switch from a mobile OS running mobile apps to a traditional Windows desktop that can run legacy enterprise applications.

The devices I’ve been testing include the HP ElitePad 900, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, and the Dell Latitude 10. I think most of us would agree that HP, Lenovo, and Dell are some of the leading manufacturers of PCs for the enterprise healthcare setting. These tablets are powered by an Intel Atom dual-core processor, so they are not as fast as Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, but you get full-day battery life on these thin, light tablets.

If you haven’t tried Windows 8 yet, you should spend some time exploring this new OS. You’ll need to set apart some time since Windows 8 is actually quite different in many ways from Windows 7. Although you get the familiar Windows Desktop, you’re left to navigate the computer without a traditional Start button on the lower left corner of the screen. Plus, you get a lot of navigational functionality by swiping up, down, left, right, or right-left-right on the left edge of the screen.

Clinicians working in enterprise healthcare settings rely on standard PCs to run enterprise electronic health records (EHRs) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems. We’re talking Epic,┬áCerner, McKesson, Greenway, AthenaHealth, NextGen, RelayHealth, and many others. Most of these systems do not provide full functionality on traditional mobile tablets like an Apple iPad. So, this leaves many clinicians frustrated and looking for workarounds so that they can still use a light, small tablet when they’re working around the hospital.

Well, Windows 8 is here to solve many of those challenging IT headaches. You can now run fully functional enterprise applications on a really small, light, thin tablet that has all-day battery life. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to run touch-friendly mobile apps in a familiar mobile environment.

I admit that it took me a while to get fully comfortable with Windows 8. It takes some time to learn the ins/outs of the new OS. Plus, you have to establish your own working routine on such a device. You can rotate the device in landscape/portrait mode. You can also configure the on-screen touch keyboard so that you can type with your thumbs by splitting the keyboard. You’ll already be familiar with these features if you know how to use an iPad or Android tablet.

I’ve become a big fan of Windows 8. It’s not a perfect OS and I’m sure the next version (Windows Blue) will be better, but this is definitely a step in the right direction for Microsoft as they try to merge the computing the requirements of a legacy Windows operating system with a newer, more modern touch-friendly mobile OS.

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