Dell scores one in health IT

A prescription that's automatically printed and filed from the doctor's terminal is cool. Once tablets become commonplace you have system that's much more paper-like than anything being sold today

A few days ago I had a little fun at Dell's expense.

Today I want to praise them, not just for a technology, but for what that technology tells us about health IT.

It's called Proximity Printing Technology, and it essentially uses a wire and network connections to get data where it needs to go.

In health IT this is a very big deal. I like the idea of my doctor being able to print my prescription while I'm sitting in front of them, have it waiting at the desk when I check-out.

But there is more to this than that. Dell has done its homework in this market. There is a "scan to EMR" function that places what's on the screen into a patient's electronic chart. There's a card copy function for getting insurance data into the system quickly.

One of the biggest complaints doctors have about today's health IT is that it actually saps productivity. Putting a form on the screen means you have to complete the form. Whether that form gets you paid or is supposedly turned into data for managing your practice, it's still a time bite that doesn't get the immediate job done.

These kinds of innovations are different. Hospitals and clinics have become among our largest, and most innovative, users of WiFi technology. Wireless is a platform built for medicine, so why should printers need wires? If the network can be accessed without wires, work should automatically route over that network to a needed device.

That's the kind of thing that increases productivity. A prescription that's automatically printed and filed from the doctor's terminal is cool. Once tablets become commonplace you have system that's much more paper-like than anything being sold today, and that's good, because it means less retraining, and training is also a productivity sink.

It's a lesson more vendors need to take to heart. Give clinics anything that increases productivity, that brings back the feel of what they understand, and you will have won their heart.

Such out of the box thinking could make even the Dell Streak (above, from CNET) look good.

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