As I’ve traveled the world this past year meeting with Microsoft customers and partners and speaking with clinician colleagues, I frequently get asked, “So what’s the big deal about Windows 8 and why does it matter to the healthcare industry?” It’s a fair question and one that I am more than happy to answer now that Windows 8, Surface, and Windows Phone 8 have officially launched.
I could write volumes about the improvements that have been made to this newest operating system from Microsoft. However, I’m well aware that at the end of the day there’s nothing compelling about a new operating system unless it, and the applications that run on it, offer significant business value to the people who use it. For medical professionals that means significant value not only to their clinical workflow but ultimately to the quality of care they provide to their patients. So let me share what I believe are the top 3 attributes of Windows 8 that make it a compelling choice for clinicians.
It keeps health information secure. Windows 8, for the first time, provides a set of devices that are not only compelling enough to meet the needs of clinicians but also meet the security and compliance demands of the enterprise healthcare settings where they work. The growing presence of consumer-grade tablets and other devices in clinical settings may be convenient for clinicians but it has been putting pressure on health IT departments in terms of managing access to, and the privacy and security of, highly regulated and confidential information. In a recent survey of healthcare executives and CIOs, 66% agreed that the “bring your own device” trend is complicating their ability to manage information resources and that providing IT support for consumer-grade tablets is increasing IT costs. Windows 8 merges an enterprise class device with enterprise class security into a consumer package. Security in health is so important it has to be considered holistically, not just the encryption of the end device. Windows 8 devices can be fully encrypted but they also plug straight into the secure and manageable infrastructure that healthcare organizations have been investing in for years.
It works the way you do. Whether at a hospital, clinic, accident scene or other setting, clinicians are highly mobile workers. They need solutions that facilitate clinical workflow. Windows 8 opens an era of new devices across many different sizes and form factors so clinicians have far greater choice in the kinds of devices they will use, and where they will use them. There is a consistent look and feel to the user interface. Not only are these devices optimal for accessing and consuming information, but they offer all the options you need for data input including touch, stylus, voice, keyboard and mouse. Whether you are working on a screen just a few inches in size, or many feet in size, these new devices offer the choice, connectivity, user experience and enterprise class services that have all too frequently been missing in clinical computing.
It facilitates communication, collaboration and productivity without compromise. With Windows 8, health workers can have productivity, convenience and mobility without compromise in a single device. Windows 8 builds on what is great about Windows 7 while creating a modern platform designed for a new generation of hardware experiences for clinicians and other health workers. And, a new generation of Windows 8 apps, built to take maximum advantage of the power, convenience and cost savings associated with cloud computing, is poised to change the way health workers connect with each other and their patients. Windows 8 works with the contemporary clinical, business and personal solutions clinicians need to do their work. And, with what’s called “Windows to Go” for Windows 8, clinicians can literally turn any computer into a secure Windows 8 enterprise PC using a bootable USB stick that provides an ultra-mobile work style experience. Its like having a secure enterprise desktop PC in your pocket.
To help you visualize how applications developed on Windows 8 might improve clinical workflow, and inspire developers around the world to build new applications for clinicians, we created a demo application for Windows 8 that we call Rounds. With Round’s Patient Dashboard open on his or her tablet computer, a clinician has all the vital information needed in the palm of their hand—the rounding sequence for the patients, current diagnoses, procedures, and medications. And, they are just one click away from connecting with any care team member. Here’s a short video that shows how it works.
To find out more about Windows 8 in healthcare, click here.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft