Healthcare: Big opportunity for Windows 8 tablets

Healthcare: Big opportunity for Windows 8 tablets

Summary: Touch tablets running Windows 8 will be perfect to deploy in the modern doctor's office.


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.


Topics: Operating Systems, CXO, IT Employment, Tablets, Software, Mobility, Microsoft, Legal, Laptops, Health, Hardware, Windows

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  • Agreed

    Good article with which I am largely in agreement, even though there are enhanced security concerns due to the portability of the devices. And, any new IT paradigm takes forever in healthcare, although HITECH has accelerated it. But, I'd add that Citrix is so fully prevalent in hospitals and healthcare systems that the move to tablets could happen more quickly if a solid Windows 8 Citrix client is made available. Back to thin clients...
  • Tablets, the new electronic notebooks

    I also think Windows 8 tablets would be fantastic in doctors' offices, in many vertical markets, and in the broad business market, as document consumption / management devices.

    One thing I wish though, is that many tablets have flaps on their top undersides, which flip out (similar to the 'flaps' on picture frames) and allow the devices to be tilted at an angle, and used. As a practical matter, most of the time someone uses a tablet, it needs to be propped up to be able to be used comfortably on a surface.
    P. Douglas
  • Agreed

    My doctor's office has recently upgraded to using HP laptops, and he said that although he was resistant at first, the benefits of having instant access to complete medical records and automatic importing of test results from the lab have made his job much easier.

    I also believe that a Win8 tablet would be immediately adopted by this community.
  • Yes thats what it is.

    If you look into current Windows Tablets, they are totally used in these verticals such as Doctors' office, POS etc. And Windows 8 will enjoy that market in addition to the enterprise market where iPads haven't entered into. It is going to be two horse race when it comes to tablets in enterprises, iPads Vs. WOA Tablets.
    Ram U
    • I agree

      It will be IT pushing for WOA, and VP getting iPad's in the end. Just like Mac's. We fought the good fight....but lost. Today we already have iPad's, brought in by VP's.

      The average cubical worker (80+%) won't ever see any tablets. WOA will essentially replace clunky Windows tablets that are in those vertical markets today.
    • "Windows 8 will enjoy that market"

      No it won't because Win 8 on ARM (WOA) will not run existing win32 software. That's the reason why verticals currently run Windows (7) Tablets. WOA simply cannot be used for this purpose, MS has ruled itself out of the verticals market.
      The Star King
      • Connectivity, is what will enable Win 8 on ARM to "run" Win 32 software, or

        even Win 64 software.

        Remember that, with Windows 8, the tablets and smartphones will have, basically, the same UI as the desktops and laptops, and, when it comes time to needing the software and data that resides on the desktops or tablets or servers, the connectivity and seamless integration between all of the Win 8 form-factors, will be what makes the Win 8 tablets and/or smartphones, seem as if they have the data and software resident on those small form-factors.

        Thus, WOA won't need to be running the software, or have the data resident within it, in order to function as a full-fledged environment for a doctor's office or anything else for that matter.

        So, a doctor can make a request for a medical history on his tablet, and the server or desktop in the office, will be able to serve that request, and the tablet will only need to have interacting software to interpret the served data; and data entry for updating the patients medical chart/history, can still occur via another request for update to the server or main computer at the doctor's office.
  • Unfortunately for Microsoft...

    This is ignoring the Apple foray into all these market segments. The iPad "elastic" effect has not liberated all its energy yet, it just started. It keeps stretching in the mind of decision taking personel.

    Microsoft still has the "deployment" advantage. Meanwhile Apple started on this front to with the Configurator Tool.

    It won't be as easy as it may seem.
    • Bingo....

      Better to use an iPad which is a lot more reliable and easier to deploy than a Windows tablet that has all the negatives and baggage associated with the Windows system.
      • So you have no clue of what WOA is @itguy

        Try Win8 on a 5 year old system, and it will blow your mind (if you have an open one). WOA will be as reliable as any Ipad, and completely different than earlier generation Windows with sandboxing et al..
      • Spewing the same old tired line?

        Are you seriously going to tout out that old slogan? When you learn to think for yourself then perhaps contribute to the discussion. Regurgitating tired, inaccurate statements makes you look quite shallow.

        Oh - and most EMR system use Citrix - so the OS of the Tablet has very little bearing at all.
    • Yup

      I agree, time is not on Microsoft's side. I still can't believe that they're over two years behind Apple on this segment, with no definite launch date for the first Win8 ARM tablet.
      • By the time W8 is released . . .

        . . . MS will be nearly 3 years behind Apple . . . and that is assuming the W8 does not have significant delays. So, I agree with you.

        As for the article, maybe I am missing something but all that I see is a case for the use of tablets. There is nothing that I have read that makes a case specifically for W8 tablets. Now, in saying that, there may be things that are know to others in the industry but which are left unsaid (eg the software may only run on Windows), but on the face of the article, there is nothing inherent about a W8 tablet that makes it any better than some other tablet . . . and I can only go on what I read!
      • Two years behind?

        I did not realise that Win8 was simply a mobile phone os on a slate like iOS. Or contrary wise, did Cupertino port OSX into tablet space when I wasn't looking? Are Apple selling "MacTabAir" devices? No to all of the above. Win8 is a *full* pc operating system that has been built to be touch-enabled from the ground up. A totally different strategy and product from the iDevice. MS isn't behind Apple on this because Apple hasn't even attempted this. When Cupertino actually have ported OSX to tablet space (and I know that a lot of Mac-users would be utterly delighted if they did - understandably enough) get back to me.
      • @FrederickLeeson

        What @The Star King said.

        To put a full OS on a tablet with today's technology involves trade-offs. Are you willing to live with that?
  • Can't necessarily ditch the pen

    My doc uses convertible Windows tablets. Anything from HIPAA privacy policies to waivers on particular meds or treatments that requires a signature is done right on the screen using a stylus. Signing with my finger doesn't look the same as signing with a pen/stylus.

    Perhaps alternative, pin-based signatures will become common and replace this need; but while medical technology moves rapidly in larger enterprises, it doesn't advance nearly as quickly at the physician practice level where entry cost is high and ROI takes much longer to realize...they are not going to change radically if they are still paying off existing technology.
    • You mean . . .

      . . . that you want Apple to ruin the most successful tablet OS in history? We can all be glad that you have no input into the company and its strategic direction.
  • Welcome to 2009

    I hope you guys are being paid by Microsoft to run all this pro Windows propaganda. Most of the doctors I've seen lately are already carrying iPads.
    • Well they've been a little cheap this year

      The quality of company shills have come down quite a bit recently. ;)
  • Win7 writing input is excellent, but probably not for doctors (stereotype!!

    I have a touchscreen with Win7 and I am surprised how well it converts it to text, much better than on my Note. I would expect that Win8 tablets would convert even finger writing just as well.

    However, rushed scrawl is unlikely to be decipherable by ANY system.