The Health IT Tablet Shift and Some Hope for Windows 8

One of the most amazing shifts that we’ve seen in healthcare is the acceptance of the tablet form factor. I’ve been fascinated with tablets since they first came out. The idea was always great, but in implementation the idea always fell apart. Many a sales rep told me how the tablet was going to be huge for healthcare. Yet, everyone that I know that got one of the really early tablets stopped using it.

Of course, the tablets that I’m referring to our the pre-iPad tablets. As one Hospital CTO told me at HIMSS, “the iPad changed tablets.

It’s so true. Now there isn’t even a discussion of whether the tablet is the right form factor for healthcare. The only question I heard asked at HIMSS was if a vendor had a tablet version of their application. In fact, I’m trying to remember if I saw a demo of any product at HIMSS that wasn’t on a tablet. Certainly all of the EHR Interface Improvements that I saw at HIMSS were all demonstrated on a tablet.

As an extension of the idea of tablets place in healthcare, I was also interested in the healthcare CTO who suggested to me that it’s possible that the Windows 8 tablet could be the platform for their health systems mobile approach. Instead of creating one iPad app that had to integrate all of their health system applications, he saw a possibility that the Windows 8 tablet could be the base for a whole suite of individual applications that were deployed by the health system.

I could tell that this wasn’t a forgone conclusion, but I could see that this was one path that he was considering seriously when it came to how they’d approach mobile. I’m sure that many have counted out Microsoft in the tablet race. However, I think healthcare might be once place where the Windows 8 tablet takes hold.

When you think about the security needs of healthcare, many hospital IT professionals are familiar with windows security and so they’ll likely be more comfortable with Windows 8. Now we’ll just have to see if Windows 8 and the applications on top of it can deliver the iPad experience that changed tablets as we know them.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • I’m not a Mac user, but I am a skeptic of Microsoft’s ‘technology advancements’ and ability to adapt quickly. However, I was working with my software development team and UI/UX people 2 weeks ago and they were praising the new Windows 8 system and Surface tablet. They had one I could play with and frankly I was impressed with the tablet. It seems that it could possibly replace my need for a laptop. If I was a physician, it could certainly replace it. Do you think Microsoft will continue to invest in the Surface or let it fall to the side after its lackluster debut?

  • I was hoping with the new tablets Android and iOS. Healthcare could move away from the 90’s and be smart about tech.. Think about the cost savings… never having to pay for all the extra support from Microsoft. Not having to spend a fortune on upgrades.. Using Ubuntu could save millions and can be used on existing computers. They would run faster be more stable and easer to IT to support.. I know Health IT has always been Windows like the Fed. But I really dont see the Slate making a dent… not because DR’s or more over the hospitals like them. But simply because the lack of support, application and UX.. I have heard horror storys of windows users not able to use 8.. Found it way to difficult. But the real killer will be the EHR’s and small practices that will kill 8. As of right now almost all EHR’s are being built to work with iOS and Android. So are all the healthcare apps. Plus with the current trend of patients becoming more invloed in there own care. That demand and market share is pushed with Android and iOS. Patients want it to work on there devices which are defiantly not windows.

  • I don’t know that Windows 8 will be the part that wins it for Microsoft. I’ve heard positive things about UI/UX features, but it’s not impossible to adapt those to Android. Doing a system-wide OS upgrade to Windows 8 is a MAJOR hurdle for companies.
    What could win is the Surface. #Chris had an excellent point though – the Surface has to play catch-up because EMRs are already adopting to demand by putting it on Android and iOS. Where the Surface could win is with the Windows-bound IT director that snubs other tablets for what is known. Look at how long Blackberry stayed relevant in corporations because IT wasn’t willing to allow the shift.
    To #Chris’s point, the real question is whether the IT department doesn’t change or whether they change and listen to the consumer.

  • I kind of grouped Windows 8 and Surface together. To me they’re largely the same product line.

    Chris, you underestimate the value of getting what you know and what you’re comfortable using. There’s a real value to IT admins to do Win 8 since it has so many things that they are already familiar with and are comfortable supporting.

    You make a great point about the EHR’s not developing for Windows 8. Although, I know a few that have made big bets on Windows 8. I just can’t say I’ve seen the Cerners and Epic’s of the world go that direction. We’ll see.

  • I’ve never been an Apple fan. A few decades ago, I found the Amiga to be far more advanced and capable, and more recently, while Apple was certainly more user friendly and reliable, it was, IMHO, far too expensive. BUT – the Ipad is something of a game changer. I’ve used one, and it is amazingly easy to use. I’ve also used the Ipod Touch and it has some nice features and usability as well. However, I’m also a big fan of Android – especially of the refinement that comes with ‘Jelly Bean’.

    And I can see plenty of uses for pads and smartphones – Android and Apple, for EHR related use. But I don’t see any use for Windows 8 – period. Having ‘one OS’ for smaller touch screened mobile devices AND for laptops and desktops may sound nice, but the reality isn’t. Larger touch screens, except when used by very low skilled personnel (or toddlers, chimps, etc.) can be next to useless for people used to working with mouse and keyboard. I’m a touch typist, and my typing slows way down on touch only devices. And on a PC with touch screen, my hands have to move way too far to handle the screen and then move back to the keyboard. Plus – I hate greasy, messy screens!

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