On the Health IT Horizon: The Rise of 2 in 1 Mobile Devices

I was expecting the arrival of 2 in 1 mobile devices to make more of a splash in the healthcare space.

These slick devices, which combine a tablet and a laptop, started popping up in healthcare settings a few months back. Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others rolled out their competitive offerings, each promising convenience, lower replacement costs, easier management, and better security—and the research shows they deliver.

But healthcare CIOs tell me their selection of these devices is still largely driven by user preference, mostly because they provide both tablet and full keyboard functionality as needed.

Others, such as Linda Reed, RN, MBA, FCHIME, vice president and CIO at Morristown, N.J.-based Atlantic Health System, are quick to add that 2 in 1s haven’t been widely adopted yet because—surprise, surprise—today’s clinical applications and EMRs are still not fully developed for a tablet. The apps tend to be cumbersome and lack intuitive navigation.

“What we have found to date is that smart phone, tablet, laptop and workstation still have fairly distinct use cases,” Reed says. “Our docs will use all of the above, based on what they are trying to get done.”

But while it’s still early, health IT professionals should consider that clinical apps and EMRs will continue to evolve, and the case for device consolidation is a good one—especially when you compare Ultrabook replacement costs with the cost of replacing either an iPad or Android tablet and a laptop.

Whether a healthcare organization wants to provide staff with tablets, or simply support BYOD in-house, the upside to a single 2 in 1 device can be significant.

Beyond saving on costs (think devices + replacements + hardware support), these lighter, more energy efficient and easier to manage 2 in 1s can streamline workflows while providing greater security. The fact that they’re easier for health IT professionals to manage is gravy.

For a detailed breakdown of total cost of ownership—and why 2 in 1s may be the least expensive, most secure option for healthcare organizations going forward—check out this report. You may want to share it with your favorite clinical app or EMR vendor, too.

What questions do you have about 2 in 1 devices?

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.