Why Windows 8 may be the ideal tablet OS for healthcare

Windows 8-based tablets might have a substantial role to play in healthcare.

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.