A recent survey by Black Book Rankings confirms what most of us docs already know. Docs are wild about mobile solutions, apps, and yes, iPads. Thank you iPad for stimulating the market for tablet devices. Clinicians as a group are very smart people who generally have disposable income. Understandably, they are attracted to all things shiny and new, especially things they think will be useful at work. For several years now, doctors have been buying tablet devices and smartphones in droves. The Black Book Rankings Survey confirms this. However it also notes something not quite so obvious if you look at the numbers alone. As reported by HealthcareITNews:
“Desire for mobile apps and their actual use remain two separate matters, as more programs are introduced, according to Black Book. Although 89 percent of primary care and internal medicine doctors use smart phones to primarily communicate with staff, and 51 percent of clinicians use tablets to perform independent medical reference and Internet research, less than 1 percent estimate they are maximizing use of their mobile clinical and business applications.”
Why this disparity? Well, the fact of the matter is that many of these “consumer devices” that have become popular with clinicians are failing them because they are first and foremost consumer (not enterprise) devices and secondly because they have severe limitations in an enterprise environment where manageability, connectivity, compatibility, and security are paramount. Furthermore, these devices are often challenged to work well with many of the business and clinical applications typically found in enterprise health system environments. Any clinician who brings his or her favorite iOS or Android device into this environment quickly discovers these limitations.
So, I hereby offer this humble advice. No doubt that shiny tablet you bought a year or two ago is looking a little, shall we say tired. You are probably all too aware of its limitations in a real world hospital or clinic environment. You have probably had a harsh word or two with your CIO or IT director or service desk because your device just doesn’t meet your needs all that well at work. So, the next time you go shopping I would urge you to take a look at the new generation of Windows 8 smartphones, tablets, convertibles, ultrabooks, and other good stuff that is available right now. And, more are coming to market every day. You’ll get a user interface that is bright, intuitive and fun to use. You’ll get BitLocker encryption on your Tablet or Ultrabook. You’ll get standard USB ports to easily connect to other devices (like ultrasound probes from Mobisante, printers, scanners, storage and so much more). On many devices you’ll get all the data input options you need like keyboard, touch, mouse, stylus (including handwriting recognition), and voice. You’ll be using a device that is loved by developers around the globe who every day are delivering more of the applications you want like CDC, UpToDate, Micromedex, Greenway, Allscripts, HealthVault, and so many more. Most of all, you’ll have amazing choices when it comes to the device type and form factors you want—choices from Lenovo, Acer, Asus, HP, Dell and of course, our own Microsoft Surface devices.
If you need further proof, have a chat with your hospital or clinic CIO or IT manager. He or she will likely be thrilled that you are considering devices running Windows. You don’t need to apologize for what you bought last time. There really wasn’t all that much to chose from then. Besides, you or your kids can still have a lot of fun with your old tablet. You just need something better for work.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft