Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Will the Tablet PC Gain Traction?

With so much emphasis being placed on Health Information Technology (health IT, HIT, or HITECH) by the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), will tablet PCs make a comeback in the healthcare sector? Electronic health record (EHR) vendors are making software to be optimized for pen-based entry, but physicians and other clinicians are not adapting well to pen-based computing. They revert to the old mouse and keyboard. Why?

Will we see the Tablet PC gain traction over the next few years among medical professionals? Maybe as more physicians see pharmaceutical representatives (drug sales reps) using Tablet PCs, they will slowly recognize the potential these devices have to offer. Perhaps tablet PC training needs to be a core part of the medical school or residency curriculum. I know that certain medical schools require all their medical students to purchase a specific tablet PC (like the Lenovo Thinkpad X200 Tablet). Will that become the norm?


  1. We have implemented the Fujitsu Lifebook TabletPCs in multiple clinical environments at Texas Health Resources to be used with our electronic health record system (Epic, Verona WI). In our experience, the handwriting recognition feature in the Tablet mode is rarely used. The clinicians prefer using them as laptops. The main reason appears to be that the system's user interface presently does not adequately support this type of human-computer interface. Even among those who are not touch-typists, a keyboard is more efficient that using handwriting recognition.
    More recently, we conducted a study of nursing documentation with the Motion Computing C5 Medical Clinical Assistant, a TabletPC specialized for the clinical environment. Although, the staff expressed concerns about the usability of Epic's UI with this type of device, we did observe impressive improvements in the timeliness and accuracy of documentation associated with the use of the C5s. We hope to present our research at the 2010 HIMSS conference in Atlanta.
    Our experience to date has largely been with Windows XP for TabletPC. I've been impressed with some of the improvements in the Vista version and the additional enhancements available in Windows 7 appear to be promising.
    Ferdinand Velasco, M.D.
    Chief Medical Information Officer
    Texas Health Resources
    Twitter: @ftvelasco

  2. I'm a big fan of the Motion C5 MCA. I wish it could be priced lower so that more hospitals are not hindered to adopt this technology.