Tablet PCs are the hottest technology in the world of Electronic Medical Records and can truly deliver on their promise to provide physicians with an electronic solution for their patient charts. Here are some answers to some of the most common questions regarding Tablet PCs.
Which is better: Slate or Convertible style Tablet PCs?
Tablet PCs come in 2 styles, the slate-style and the convertible-style. The primary difference is that the convertible-style comes equipped with a built-in keyboard while the slate style does not. Using a slate-style Tablet PC requires the user to use the stylus/digitizer pen as the primary user interface. If a keyboard is needed the Tablet PC must be connected to a docking station connected to a keyboard. While the convertible still has full Tablet PC capabilities like hand-writing recognition, speech recognition and mobility, convertible-style Tablet PCs tend to be thicker and heavie as their keyboard is simply unnecessary weight when being used in Tablet PC mode; this weight difference is usually about 1-2 pounds. In most cases the slate-style Tablet PC is a better choice as it is lighter (usually 3.5 lbs), easier to carry and offers more advanced features. However if you think you will be using the Tablet PC out of the office, or need to frequently use a keyboard the convertible is a more robust option.
How do Tablet PCs connect to my network?
Almost all Tablet PCs these days come equipped with built-in wireless networking. In order for a Tablet PC to send or receive data from your Electronic Medical Record software in real time you must be connected to a wireless network. In order to do this you will need a Wireless Access Point which will enable you to connect the Tablet PC(s) wirelessly to your wired network. A high quality Wireless Access Point should be purchased as its proper functioning will be a major determining factor in how well your network performs. Business-quality access points from Cisco, 3COM, NetGear, D-Link are all good options and generally cost between $150-$400.
What type of CPU is best for Tablet PC’s?
Tablet PCs come equipped with two types of CPUs, the Intel Celeron and the Intel Centrino w/ Pentium M technology. While the Celeron is significantly less expensive, it lacks some of the important features that come with the Centrino including integrated wireless, faster performance, improved stability and advanced power-saving controls. The wireless chipset included with the Centrino platform are generally high-quality wireless cards that function in both 802.11b and 802.11g environments. In a physician office setting, heavy use of the wireless is expected so picking a Tablet PC with good wireless capabilities is very important.
How long is the battery life on a Tablet PC?
Battery life ranges from 2 hours to 6 hours depending on the model. While many of the Tablet PC manufacturers claim to have higher battery life they often do not take into account how the Tablet PC is being used. For example, the built-in wireless networking can suck up a lot of battery life as do large applications such as Electronic Medical Records software. Even under these circumstances almost all Tablet PCs have a minimum battery life of 2 hours and some of the Tablet PCs by Motion, HP, Fujitsu and Electrovaya can achieve consistent battery life of over 3.5 hours under heavy use.
How can Tablet PCs help physicians deliver better patient care?
Tablet PCs provide physicians with an endless amount of information right at their finger tips. This translates into better patient care because the physician can access a more thorough patient record, access patient education databases, access medication databases to aid in prescription of medications, document at the point of encounter and send prescriptions/lab requests electronically using a more secure, less error prone method of transmission.
Which Tablet PCs are best for use in physician offices?
While there is no clear choice when it comes to purchasing a Tablet PC there are several models that have become very popular among physicians and are generally good choices. The new Motion C5 or LE1700 Tablet PC by Motion Computing and Fujitsu Lifebook 4220 Tablet PC by Fujitsu are arguably the best Tablet PCs on the market; both range between $2000-$2500. The Toshiba Portege is a great option as a convertible Tablet PC. The new Acer C200 and Lenovo Thinkpad. Tablet PCs are also great convertible-style options.