Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tablet PC vs. Workstation in the Physician Office?

This is being republished from my other blog:

In the outpatient setting, we see clipboards all the time. New patients are often handed a clipboard that contains several pages of forms. When the nurse or medical assistant comes in to the exam room, he/she often holds a clipboard (or your chart) to record your information and data. Then, when the physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant comes into the room, he/she is probably also holding your chart or clipboard. Now, here come the important questions:
  • Does the doctor sit or stand while he/she talks to the patient?  Patients seem to prefer it when the doctor is sitting.
  • If there's a computer in the room, does the doctor spend most of the time looking at the computer screen or the patient?
  • If there's a keyboard attached to the computer, is the doctor typing away or looking at the patient?
  • If the doctor is using a tablet (in slate mode), then he/she won't be typing. That doctor will be tapping on the screen with a stylus pen. When interacting directly with a patient, is that better or worse than typing on a keyboard?
The beauty of the convertible tablet PC is that it can be used when you're sitting or standing. You can't really do that with a desktop, but you can if you have a tablet that you can hold in your hand. Once you get comfortable with pen-based computing, you'll quickly realize that it's much more efficient to tap directly on the screen. Also, if you're using a tablet PC, you can talk to the patient while you're standing. Then, you can also sit on a stool and continue the conversation while you scribble notes or tap on the screen of your tablet PC in slate mode.  Then, if you need to do a fair bit of typing, you could quickly convert your slate tablet into a laptop. As tablets become more versatile, more health care providers will turn to tablets for the outpatient and inpatient settings. We're going to see more rugged tablets. We're also going to see lighter models that can easily convert from slate to notebook modes.

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