Tablets going away in the future?

Recently, I was contacted by a reader who attended the recent Startup Weekend in Madison.  He asked me about my thoughts on using tablet computers to work with an EMR system.

I told him that, although it is possible to work with our EMR via tablet, I usually use a PC desktop machine, which I find much more versatile.  I like the concept of a tablet, but it really is more of a visual statement/wow factor (think Star Trek) for patients to see a doctor using rather than necessary.  I think it might be more important if I were walking around a hospital from room to room, or moving from room to room to see patients.  However, my workflow model includes a brief exam with each patient at the beginning of our encounter and then moving quickly from the exam room to my office for across-the-desk counseling and discussion.  It works well this way and appears more professional in my opinion (rather than doing everything in the exam room and then ending the encounter.)

My further thoughts on tablets are that they may be a passing fad, especially now that Apple has introduced lightweight “Air” laptops.  In reality, I have both an iPad-2 and an iPad-Mini that, for the most part, sit in a drawer unused.  I do almost everything in my life on an iPhone, my Macbook Air, my office PC, and my home PC.  Tablets do not play a major role.  I think the necessity of a good physically distinct keyboard is so natural and intuitive that this essentially makes tablets less attractive.  The only thing that makes a tablet more attractive, which I predict will be included in laptops in the future, is standalone cellular service that obviates the need for wi-fi or hardwire connectivity.

About the author

Dr. Michael West

Dr. Michael West

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at