It’s time to graduate from “My First Tablet”

02 August 2013 | Neil Jordan, General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft

If you can’t bring information to the point where care is delivered, whether that’s in the home, at the hospital bedside, or in the clinic, then all the money spent on digital health—such as the very significant investments being made in EMRs right now—is for nothing. All health is mobile so you have to have the devices to take and collect information where it’s needed, and where it originates.

As such, the early slates of tablets deserve a lot of credit for spurring clinicians’ use of mobile devices—they loved these personal devices so much, they started bringing them in to work. However, the industry is beginning to realize that when you use a model that was created for personal use in an organizational environment, it eventually runs out of steam. First, because it’s really hard for the IT department to maintain control and keep everyone’s devices compliant with increasing amounts of regulation. Second, because these devices were designed for personal use, they don’t have the applications health professionals need for their work. Ultimately, they end up being an ancillary machine, rather than one device that does all.

So while the initial tablets were an important part of the evolutionary process, it’s time that we graduate from the “My First Tablet” phase. We now have an increasing number of Windows 8 devices, including 7-inch tablets and 10-inch tablets that are very lightweight and have a very long battery life. And these tablets run an enterprise-class operating system and applications. The end result: Medical staff can finally have not only a highly mobile, great experience, but also the functionality and security they need to truly support their work.

And, IT can breathe a sigh of relief because this second generation of tablets is much easier to manage and secure. Just one example: A Dell-commissioned study showed that its Windows 8-based Latitude tablet 10 is “11 times faster to deploy and 59% cheaper to manage over three years than the iPad” as reported in this Information Week article.

Another reason the next-generation tablets are so compelling is that more and more established names in the health industry are developing Windows 8 apps, including  AirStrip Technologies, UpToDate, CDC, Greenway, Allscripts, and EMIS, to name a few. For example, AirStrip Technologies, the first healthcare software vendor to join the new Microsoft application development program, produces an innovative mobile patient monitoring service called AirStrip ONE. The platform provides clinicians with an integrated view of patient data from multiple sources in one unified view. For more information on AirStrip, check out this recent article from MobiHealthNews.

Windows 8.1 takes the progression to no-compromise, enterprise-grade tablets yet a step further. Here are just a few of the updates, all based on customer feedback:

Security and manageability updates: Health organizations can maintain even more control over sensitive data and their device infrastructure. For example, Remote Business Data Removal enables a health customer to selectively mark data as corporate on a device and remove it (when an employee leaves, for example) without wiping the whole device.

Clinical productivity features: These include built-in Miracast, which enables clinicians to wirelessly “beam” their screen to a projector or suitably-enabled TV—great in multi-disciplinary team meetings, or when the clinician wants to share something with a patient or their family using the TV in their room.

Support for even more devices: Supports the new, smaller tablets that are on their way to market—many of which fit neatly into the front pocket of scrubs or a white coat.

With Windows 8.1, we’re excited to be part of ensuring that there are even more truly functional and secure devices to support the many different ways and places health is delivered.

Neil Jordan
General Manager of Health Worldwide for Microsoft