This week I visited a doctor for some routine healthcare, and after observing how they run the medical practice I am convinced a Windows 8 tablet deployment would revolutionize the modern doctor's office. It will take porting existing practice management software to Windows 8, but with that I wouldn't be surprised to see tablets in the typical doctor's office.
The practice I observed is already using tablet technology to expedite patient handling, although the tablets in use are several years old. The nurses carried HP 2760p convertible notebooks from room to room, entering session information on the run. Updated patient records are immediately available to everyone on the network, including the attending doctors.
The doctors use Motion Tablet PCs without keyboards, as they are used primarily to reference the patient information during each session. The Motion slates uses an active digitizer, meaning all input and interface manipulation is done with the tablet pen.
Seeing this practice in action convinced me that the entire practice would be better served with Windows 8 tablets using a touch interface. While the nurses told me they preferred using the keyboard on the HPs currently used (forgoing the tablet functions entirely), the amount of text input during each patient sessions was admittedly not very much. Using an onscreen touch keyboard could be just as effective after a short adjustment period.
The doctors told me they like the Motion tablets due to the small size (8.9-inch) and light weight. They didn't care for using the pen much, and admitted that a touch screen with good keyboard would be good enough. I discussed the upcoming Windows 8 tablets with them, and the thought of tablets the size and weight of the iPad yet running Windows was an exciting prospect to them. I left with the impression they would upgrade the entire practice in a heartbeat if the costs were in line.
While Tablet PCs were all over this practice, not a single user was using the pen for input. If the pen was used at all it was to manipulate the interface but that's it. Replacing all of these tablets with touch operated slates could be done with no sacrifices.
I doubt this medical practice was unique, and I'll bet Windows 8 tablets could take this healthcare segment by storm. Microsoft should be working already with providers of medical practice management software to get it optimized for the new touch tablets coming with Windows 8. There must be billions of dollars on the table for this in the U. S. alone.
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