A few weeks ago I predicted that Surface Pro 3, the “tablet that can replace your laptop” would be a hit with doctors. I did so before I had even had an opportunity to put my hands on one. My prediction was based on my personal experience with Surface Pro 1 and 2 machines, and the promise of Surface Pro 3 to address what I considered to be some of the deficiencies of the earlier devices for clinicians.
Don’t get me wrong. I still use, and am very happy with my Surface Pro 2. However, for clinical applications you often need more screen real estate and resolution. The Surface Pro 3 meets that requirement in a machine that is both thinner and lighter than its cousin. In fact, when I first held the Surface Pro 3 in my hands, I couldn’t believe how light it was. Our engineers knocked this one out of the stadium. The build quality is also something to behold.
There are many superlative reviews of the Surface Pro 3 one the web, so I don’t feel a need to reinvent the wheel here. However, I did want to call attention to one of the minor criticisms I have heard from a few of my professional colleagues. Although the detachable keyboard for the Surface Pro 3 is much improved from Surface Pro 2 offerings, some doctors tell me they still don’t like typing on the Surface keyboard compared to their laptop or desktop experience. I’ll admit, that for heavy data entry I would prefer to use a traditional keyboard. Having said that, I find the Surface Pro 3 keyboard to be an excellent mobile companion that actually works quite well. Keep in mind that with Surface you also have lots of other data entry options including on-screen keyboard configurations, pen (including handwriting to text), and voice. The Surface Pro 3 pen is absolutely delightful, and the handwriting recognition is superb considering my terrible doctor’s scribble.
What I most want my clinical colleagues to understand is that this machine can not only be your laptop replacement, but also your desktop replacement. Since the official docking station for Surface Pro 3 won’t be available until August, I am currently using a Targus DisplayLink setup. All I need do is attach the power cord to the Surface Pro 3 (with a much improved power connector compared to Surface 1 & 2) and plug in the USB 3.0 connector to my DisplayLink device. Boom! I now have a full desktop experience par none! And let me tell you, this machine rocks compared to just about anything I’ve used in recent years. Between Surface Pro 3 and my Windows Phone, I am totally equipped for anything the business or clinical worlds want to throw my way.
Remember too, that in most cases a Surface Pro 3 will run your full EMR. You can also run multiple modern apps at the same time. You could be reviewing an ECG on AirStrip, while looking at data coming from your legacy EMR, while consulting with a colleague via Lync.
Lastly, don’t forget that the Surface Pro 3 is essentially a PC. That means it will run just about anything out there and it easily connects to accessory keyboards, printers, mice, and more.
Until fairly recently, I’ve been saying that computing technology still wasn’t good enough to fully meet the clinical workflow needs of busy, highly mobile healthcare professionals. While even the Surface Pro 3 may not yet satisfy every clinician out there, I truly believe it is the closest thing to perfection that I’ve used thus far. Apparently other clinicians agree with me because we are already seeking lots of bulks orders from some of the most highly regarded hospitals and health systems in America and beyond.
One of those organizations is UPMC in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We just released a new video about some really great work that UPMC is doing with Microsoft partner, Caradigm, using Surface Pro 3 devices.
In summary, I give Surface Pro 3 a firm thumbs up. But don’t take my word for it. Visit one of our Microsoft Stores or stop by Best Buy and do your own evaluation. I think you’ll walk out the door with the machine of your dreams.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft