Microsoft highlights benefits of its tablet PC technology for healthcare

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Microsoft Corp. sought to draw attention to tablet PCs built by its partners but driven by the company’s technology to bolster patient care and efficiency at healthcare organizations at last month’s HIMSS 2006 conference.

Microsoft’s mobile software for tablet PCs was launched in 2004. The company now has over 60 partners such as Eclipsys Corp., Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp., Motion Computing Inc., and Toshiba Corp., developing the portable PCs and other mobile devices which are driven on the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, SQL Server, .NET Web Services, Office XP Professional and other Microsoft technologies. Businesses have implemented the devices across a broad cross-section of healthcare organizations, including thousands of hospitals, clinics, home health groups, visiting nurse services and others, the company said.

“Flexible data input options, mobility and real-time access to information are just a few of the factors driving adoption of tablet PCs in healthcare, because they allow clinicians to easily use point-of-care technologies within their desired practice patterns versus having to change their practice to fit within technology constraints,” said Joel French, vice president of healthcare and life sciences at Microsoft partner Motion Computing. “Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition combined with Motion’s family of award-winning slate tablet PCs have together enabled tens of thousands of nurses, physicians and other clinicians to streamline clinical workflows, eliminate or reduce information latency, and improve patient care experiences.”

The PCs are lightweight and highly portable, and can increase healthcare worker efficiency by freeing them to do their work anywhere, whether reviewing a patient chart, annotating X-rays, collecting patient data, checking lab results, writing prescriptions or performing any number of other common activities. This translates, the company said, into more patients seen, reduced paperwork and transcription time, and decreased redundancy.

Tablet PCs also improve patient care by reducing mistakes, increasing doctor and nurse efficiency, enhancing communication, and shortening the duration of a patient’s visit — helping create a better overall experience for the patient. The mobility of a tablet PC helps clinicians quickly and easily collect and review critical patient information and charts, conduct research, share notes, and update information directly at the patient’s bedside and in real time.
As for reducing costs, decreasing the reliance on paper, the need for multiple PCs for each healthcare team member, and decreasing costly errors and redundancies, tablet PC use can significantly improve a healthcare institution’s bottom line, Microsoft said.