How Windows 8 Could Affect the Healthcare Industry


Amy Wagner, Principal Managing ConsultantYou would be hard-pressed to find an industry that is on the verge of a more radical transformation than healthcare. After fighting through the recession, most providers have regained their economic footing—just in time to face approaching deadlines from the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

Technology’s impact on the healthcare industry

And then there’s the disruptive force of technology to contend with. While businesses in all industries are struggling to keep pace with new devices and platforms, healthcare faces unique challenge driven by three factors:

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)—The HITECH Act included incentives for providers to adopt EHRs. According to a 2011 Physician Workflow Study, approximately 55 percent of providers have implemented an EHR system; of those that haven’t nearly half expect to do so in the coming year. The HITECH Act set targets and standards for meaningful use, including the ability for patients to access their records, and providers will have to demonstrate the efficacy of their systems by 2015.

Mobility and bring your own device (BYOD)—Physicians and nurses have been early adopters of tablets and smartphones to access records and enter new information about patients into the system. Manhattan Research found that 81 and 62 percent of physicians own a smartphone and tablet, respectively. Half of physicians with tablets use them at the point of care. As with organizations in other industries, BYOD has raised issues about security as well as how to support these devices.

Increased emphasis on customers—In the face of heightened competition for healthcare dollars, hospitals understand the need to provide an excellent customer experience. Consumers will soon exercise an unprecedented level of control over their healthcare decisions, so hospitals are focusing on increasing operational efficiency and making information more readily available to current and prospective customers.

As a result of these three trends, providers are grappling with how to manage the competing needs of physicians, consumers, federal regulators, and other stakeholders—all while staying ahead of the competition.

How Windows 8 devices can help address these issues

The release of the Windows 8 smartphone and Surface tablet hold immense promise for healthcare. The Surface alone has the potential to address a number of these challenges: hospitals that issue Surface tablets to their staff will remove the compatibility and security threats that BYOD raises. And the Surface will enable physicians and nurses to move seamlessly through their rounds without having to shift from tablet to desktop in order to complete their work.

In addition, many hospitals already have Microsoft platforms, creating a natural opening for applications that provide mobile access to information. For example, Aspect has worked with St. Joseph Health System to develop applications that display patient information on tablets and smartphones. The Windows 8 devices could present new possibilities.

Technology has demonstrated the ability to reshape entire industries. Will healthcare be next? Let me know your thoughts.

Amy Wagner, Principal Managing Consultant, has more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry as a registered nurse. Amy joined the Aspect Software Healthcare Group in 2009 as a managing consultant and healthcare evangelist. She and has worked on Microsoft Healthcare projects while also actively engaging in healthcare-related solution conception, design, and testing.

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