Healthcare News & Insights

Choosing the best tablets for doctors: 3 keys

As demand for tablet PCs grows among healthcare professionals, hospitals will want to make sure they’re choosing the best tablets for doctors. 

doctor tabletWhile tablets have been a big hit in many industries, they’re especially popular in health care, in part because the size and shape makes the devices a good replacement for a clipboard with a paper chart.

Nearly two-thirds of doctors (72%) are using tablets in their work, according to a recent study from Manhattan Research — up from 62% who said the same thing last year and more than double the 30% of doctors who were using tablets in 2011.

Often, doctors use those devices to view and edit electronic health records (EHRs). Tablets are also popular for reading electronic textbooks and conducting other research.

In addition to their own use of tablets, doctors are also beginning to advise their patients to use certain mobile apps. Those might include research tools and applications that can help people track their weight, nutrition, symptoms and other information.

Finding the right device

The bottom line: Doctors want to use tablets — and those that are using them are seeing a lot of benefits.

However, tablets can also create a lot of risk, including increased danger that sensitive patient information will be lost or stolen. Therefore, hospitals need to make sure they have policies and procedures in place regulating how tablets are used.

Hospitals have two primary options: They can purchase tablets and issue them to doctors, or allow people to use personal tablets as part of a bring your own device (BYOD) program.

While BYOD has grown in popularity recently, many experts warn that the safest and most secure method is to have organization-issued tablets. That allows the hospital to have tighter control over what devices are used, and it makes it easier for the tablets to be managed.

Here are some key steps to choosing the best tablet for doctors:

  • Look for security features — Perhaps most importantly, the hospital needs a device that will protect patient information as best as possible. That means looking for a device with features such as encryption, remote wipe and support for mobile virtual private network (VPN) technology for connecting to the hospital’s network.
  • Get doctors’ input — The key driver of the BYOD trend is that people want greater choice in the devices they use for work. Even if the hospital is the one that chooses and owns a tablet, it’s still possible to give doctors some amount of say over the devices that are chosen.
  • Consider durability — While many popular tablets will long useful life when they’re just used for light reading a few times a day, they may not have such a long life if they’re carried around by doctors on long shifts. Some experts recommend sticking with tablets specifically designed for use in hospitals and other professional applications.

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