Earlier this week, I ran an interview with two healthcare professionals about the iPad mini. In it, they made the case that the iPad mini can be tranformative for healthcare.
As I've come to learn more about Windows 8, I've been thinking that Windows 8-based tablets might also have a very substantial role to play in healthcare. In fact, Windows 8 tablets might, in some cases, be even more appropriate to healthcare than iOS or Android devices.
I love my iPad and iPhone, and my husband really enjoys his Nexus 7, so this isn't about whether I like one environment more than another. What it is about is about security and vertical integration.
Hospital computing (and all healthcare computing for that matter) necessitates security as a top priority. From a defensive perspective, the cost -- from both a legal and PR point of view -- of a major breach (or even a comparatively minor HIPAA or HITECH violation) could be extensive. From a patient care perspective, we want patients to know that their records are being kept as secure as possible.
Windows 8, like Windows 7 before it, integrates beautifully with Windows server technologies. Windows 8 adds additional security features and works smoothly with Exchange, SharePoint, Windows 2008 and Windows 2012 Server. Of particular interest to healthcare professionals, Windows 8 also supports Microsoft Lync secured messaging, so IM messages that go between medical professionals can be both instant and rock-solid secure.
Beyond that, the much-maligned so-called Metro modern UI tiled Start screen interface can offer substantial benefits to medical professionals. Because the tiles are live, they can provide an at-a-glance update into many of the details a medical professional might need to know.
There are some issues I see standing in the way of adoption of Windows 8 in healthcare, but I think we'll see answers in the near-term. The biggest is the cost, weight, and size of Windows 8 tablets. As Dr. Velasco said in the article about how the iPad mini can transform mobile healthcare, the iPad mini can fit in a lab coat pocket. As yet, no Windows 8 tablet can accomplish this feat (although Windows phones can).
Overall, I'm quite enthusiastic about how Windows -- a vertically-integrated ecosystem -- can solve many of the IT problems we face in healthcare, and how this new mobile component could fit right in to that environment with the proper form factor.