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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Feb 4 2013   10:22PM GMT

Tablets in health care: where’s the value?



Posted by: RedaChouffani
EHR, tablets

Clinical departments across all hospitals are continuing to adopt tablets at increasing rates. These devices have similar functionality to mobile phones or smart mobile devices, yet offer longer battery life as well as larger displays.

As we begin to question why these devices are, in some cases, fast becoming a new substitute for PCs, we can determine seven main reasons why tablets are becoming the new go-to device for enterprises and hospitals around the world.

  1. It’s all about the apps:  As more EHR and other health care application providers introduce mobile apps as part of their offerings, many clinicians and IT departments are evaluating these solutions to seek the benefits of having staff gain access to electronic health information on the go.  This helps increase interest in the tablets.
  2. Light weight:  Nurses through the hospital halls tend to have to push carts from patient room to patient room.  While many of these carts can easily be maneuvered, there is still the fact that they require management and supervision. But if we compare these computers on wheels to the lightweight tablet PCs and everything it has to offer, it becomes clear that giving staff these devices is a much better alternative.
  3. Low cost:  In some cases, specific tablet manufacturers can offer more than one model available and at different price points. Some of the platforms, like Android, provide a wide range of models with varying price points.  This encourages adoption, as the total cost of ownership is significantly lower than anticipated.
  4. Longer battery life:  In every case of tablet adoption, battery life was significantly higher than the estimate even included in the adoption plan. This helps nurses focus on patients, not battery levels and power sources.
  5. Easy to manage:  Similar to PCs, there are several packages that can be used to manage, update and support these devices.  But within the mobile arena, there are several mature products that provide similar functionality around managing assets.
  6. Connectivity support:  In hospital settings, some of the traditional carts mounted with PCs do typically require either barcode scanners or other types of data capture functionality.  Tablets are offering similar and comparable connectivity. What’s more, new connectivity methods have been introduced in some of the tablets available in the market place (such as Near Field Communication).  These show significant potential for replacing some of the traditional handheld scanners that match patients to medication, because it can be used to scan and confirm patients based on NFC.
  7. Touch screen: In addition to the functionality benefits offered and listed above, the last item offered is the touch user interface which allows for a robust and user-friendly experience.

Tablets will continue to gain momentum in health care and see a significant increase in adoption.  While prices of these devices may still be somewhat matched to those of laptops, hospitals will continue to seek tablets and roll them out as part of their EHR implementation plans.

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