Last Friday I reported on some official cleaning guidelines for the Microsoft Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 line of tablet computers. Knowing how to keep your tablet computer as clean as possible without damaging the device is important, especially when that device might be used in a hospital or clinic setting. In that post I also wrote, “While there will always be minor deficiencies for any computing device that is manufactured for general industrial or consumer use when it comes to its use in healthcare, it has been rewarding to see the uptake of tablets in clinical settings…... Over the next few years, I fully expect some manufacturers will develop a line of devices specifically built to meet more of the unique requirements of the healthcare industry.”
Well, it turns out that my prediction was spot on and that you won’t have to wait “over the next few years”. Today at the International CES in Las Vegas, Panasonic released news of the latest member of its Toughpad™ family of rugged, enterprise-grade tablets --the Toughpad FZ-M1. According to Panasonic, the Toughpad FZ-M1 is the thinnest* and lightest* rugged 7-inch fanless tablet with a 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5 processor available today. Running Windows 8.1 Pro, the Toughpad FZ-M1 can be easily incorporated into enterprise and government environments. With a broad range of configuration options available, it can be customized to meet the unique needs of highly mobile professionals in various markets. From my perspective, and Panasonic’s, that will include healthcare.
Panasonic goes on to say that “at 1.2 lbs. and only 0.7” thin for the standard configuration, the Toughpad FZ-M1 is the world’s lightest* and thinnest* tablet in its class. Its fully-rugged design is tested to meet MIL-STD-810G specifications for drops (up to 5 feet), shock, vibration, altitude, humidity and extreme temperatures. The FZ-M1 is the first rugged 7-inch 4th generation Intel® Core™ i5 tablet with a fanless design***, allowing it to easily meet IP65 standards for rain and dust. The tablet has also been submitted for ANSI 12.12.1 certification (Class1, Div2) for use in incendiary environments.” In other words, this device should be able to handle just about anything a typical clinician might require. I suspect it would even fit in a lab coat pocket. Its high-sensitivity capacitive, 10-point multi-touch screen can even be used with gloves. An optional stylus is available for signature capture and similar applications.
Like other devices running Windows 8.1 Pro, the Toughpad FZ-M1can handle the connectivity, configurability, privacy and security requirements of enterprise healthcare settings. In other words, it will be equally adored by both health and IT professionals. It offers a broad range of configuration options, allowing organizations to customize the ideal tool for their workforces. Panasonic says that configuration options include dedicated GPS, Barcode reader, Ethernet or serial port; and a choice of near field communications (NFC), SmartCard reader, UHF radio-frequency identification (RFID) (up to 10 ft. range), or Magnetic Stripe reader. Additionally, the Toughpad FZ-M1 is the first rugged 7-inch tablet on the market offering 4G LTE multi-carrier embedded wireless broadband connectivity, enabling IT administrators to switch carriers via software to select the best 4G LTE carrier for their workers for any geographic area.
This new tablet computer from Panasonic is one of the first, but certainly won’t be the only new generation of ruggedized, Windows 8 devices for use in healthcare and other industries. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And that’s great news for clinicians and healthcare IT professionals around the world.
Bill Crounse MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft