5 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tablet for Healthcare

When an industry as time-sensitive as healthcare implements new technology, the priority is to make the transition as smooth as possible. Disruption is never ideal, but when patients' lives are on the line, a drop in productivity could have significant consequences. To seamlessly integrate new technology, standardization and user familiarity are key. Once standardization and familiarity are taken into consideration, IT managers must consider employees' needs from a holistic viewpoint.

In the first of this 2-part series, I will feature the factors IDC Health Insights author Lynne A. Dunbrack believes that healthcare organizations should consider when choosing tablets. In the second part, I share some real-world case studies featuring PC tablet usage in healthcare.

In the comments section, share what tablet features you think are most important in a health care environment. 

For me, I value the ability to get the best information available to my Dr and attending nurses about both my personal medical history, my current diagnostics and any information from other specialists in their hands - while maintaining my personal privacy.


What's Driving the Demand for Healthcare Tablets?

The following three trends play a significant role in healthcare professionals' tablet adoption:

  • Increasing adoption of mobile technology, in particular tablets. According to the most recent Pew Internet Project statistics, 31% of consumers own a tablet computer and 45% own a smartphone.
  • Consumerization of technology. As clinicians become more facile with tablet devices for personal use, they will want to use them professionally to care for their patients and will expect similar levels of capabilities; for example, on-demand access to healthcare information.
  • Meaningful use mandates physician utilization of electronic health records (EHRs). To qualify for Stage 2 Meaningful Use incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), physicians will have to increase their use of certified EHRs. Tablets make it easier for highly mobile clinical workers to access health information and document care as they make their rounds through the hospital and see patients in the physician's office.

The Right Device for the Right Task

Different use cases will dictate different types of devices and form factors. Before selecting and deploying mobile point of care devices, healthcare organizations should ask the following questions:

  1. What will the device be used for? Senior clinicians may use the device to look up information and monitor their patients when they are on call. Mid-level clinicians may use their mobile device to help them make better decisions and to seek guidance from more senior members of the care team.
  2. How much data entry will be performed on the device? Certain form factors lend themselves better to view only or capturing data in simple forms, requiring minimal data entry versus more intensive data entry where a keyboard and mouse would be necessary. Look for peripheral compatibility to ease the transition for new tablet users.
  3. What information will be presented on the device? Viewing medical images and videos requires a certain amount of screen real estate. High-definition screens improve the experience, especially when used for patient education and engagement.
  4. How long must the battery last per charge? Typical shifts last from 8 to 12 hours. Unless multiple docking stations are readily available that charge the device or batteries can be hot swapped, then battery life should last the duration of the longest shift for the unit.
  5. Are multitasking and collaboration required? The ability to open multiple windows and move between them, such as between a unified communication application and the EHR, helps improve clinician workflow. Clinician collaboration is made possible with the ability to share a screen view and use videoconferencing at the same time.

"I think the real impact is going to come when some of these major vendors start writing applications for the native Windows 8 platform, with the swiping, pinch-and- zoom, and touch controls natively understood by the application and leveraged to their fullest extent," said Timothy Young, end-user device engineering manager, Penn Medicine.

The ability to deploy Intel-based tablets running Windows 8 Pro as a managed device is very attractive to IT executives. However, the underlying infrastructure — device management tools, security systems, WiFi networking — and the IT support staff must be ready to support Windows 8 from end to end before devices are widely deployed to end users.

Part 2 of this blog series will feature real-world case studies of tablets in healthcare.

To learn more about how tablets are enabling productivity at Shanghai Longhua Hospital, see the video below:

For more conversations about IT Center and tablets in healthcare, click on the hashtags below:

#itcenter #InsideTablets