Computing has revolutionised healthcare, and continues to do so at a phenomenal rate. While successful diagnosis is based primarily on the experience and intuition of medical practitioners, the more easily doctors can check their theories against databases of known cases, or a patient’s history, the more reliably and quickly that diagnosis can be confirmed.
It’s also vital that patient records are kept up-to-date accurately with new symptoms and observations, as healthcare is always a collaboration between multiple medical practitioners.
The computer in the doctor’s surgery has opened up a world of information access that has only just begun to be realised. As far back as 1966, the concept of expert systems helping with medical matters was being experimented with.
Joseph Weizenbaum’s infamous ELIZA was more a chatterbot than a true repository of medical expertise, but still pointed towards future possibilities. A fully computerised doctor is still in the realm of science-fiction for the time being. But, if computing has had a significant impact on the doctor’s surgery, mobile technology has further extended the flexibility of medical practice, and this is a trend set to grow immensely in the near future.
However, most EHR systems are designed to be viewed on a reasonably large screen, using a keyboard and mouse to navigate – so a smaller touchscreen can pose considerable limitations.
Also, whilst the vast majority of medical institutions have Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, very few of them allow BYOD devices to have unrestricted access to network resources, placing considerable restrictions on which systems can be used. An Aruba Networks survey in 2012 put the figure as low as 8%. For this reason, more traditional mobile devices will remain the most popular form of computing for doctors for some time to come, according to Spyglass Consulting Group.
An ideal mobile device for a doctor needs to be robust, with the ability to be centrally managed. It also needs to be secure, because it will be host to patient records in digital form, which contain sensitive private information. If a considerable amount of text data needs to be entered, a professional-grade notebook like the HP EliteBook range would be ideal. However, the best of both worlds is provided by the HP Pro x2 612 G1, satisfying both data input needs and tablet-focused portability.
The Pro x2 612 G1 sports an Intel Core i3 or i5 ultra-low voltage processor and Intel HD 4200 graphics, for high performance with low power consumption. Up to 8GB of DDR3 memory is also included. However, the detachable tablet screen is the most significant feature. The 12.5in screen can be removed from the keyboard base and used separately as a fully fledged tablet, and there’s an integrated Wacom pen option to aid this scenario.
This allows the doctor to access and input information in the much more relaxed and casual tablet fashion when with a patient. But the Pro x2 612 G1 is still a notebook when the screen is docked, so can be used comfortably for everyday data entry and office duties at a desk.
Comprehensive Wi-Fi connectivity is available, with 802.11a, b, g, n, and the latest 802.11ac all supported, plus optional HSPA+ or 4G mobile data. This is very much a corporate-grade notebook, too. There’s a TPM 1.2 chip built in for hardware-level encryption key storage, as well as smartcard and optional fingerprint reading.
With the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 Professional installed as an option, the Pro x2 612 G1 is designed to fit seamlessly into a corporate network with full compliance and the ability to participate in centralised management and updating. However, it’s also optimised for tablet-style touch screen usage.
A flexible, portable solution such as the HP Pro x2 612 G1 can save time when entering information. It can also make the infamous illegibility of doctors’ handwriting a thing of the past, as electronically entered medical notes will be legible 100% of the time. So the introduction of portable computing into the doctor’s office has very real value – not just for the efficiency and convenience of the doctor, but also for the quality of care provided.