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Mater Health Services evaluates tablets for clinical use

Mater Health Services evaluates tablets for clinical use

Battery life and weight important, says CIO Malcolm Thatcher

Mater Health Services CIO Malcolm Thatcher.

Mater Health Services CIO Malcolm Thatcher.

Queensland-based Mater Health Services is evaluating Dell tablets for possible use by doctors in clinical situations.

Mater Health Services CIO Malcolm Thatcher told CIO Australia that the tablets were selected for trial as they are light weight and have a good battery life.

However, the risk of infection from tablets means the health provider will need a process to disinfect them.

“The reality is that anything with a speaker or microphone is going to attract bugs so we will turn over these tablets every six to nine months,” he said.

The health provider currently provides bring your own device support for iOS as the iPad is popular with doctors.

Thatcher said the iPad is “OK in theatre environments” as it can be placed in a sterile bag. “In other medical situations, it [the iPad] can’t be used as there are a lot of openings in the device where bugs can flourish.”

While tablets are still being evaluated, Mater Health Services uses workstations on wheels (WOWs) in departments such as emergency and radiology.

WOWs were selected for data entry as, according to Thatcher, entering data on a tablet in a clinical environment is “cumbersome”.

The health provider is also halfway through a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) deployment to decrease its fleet of PCs – some 3500 spread across seven sites.

The program began in 2011 and so far it has rolled out 1600 VDIs.

“Overall, clinicians love the [VDI] system because it gives they pick up software tools immediately. They don’t have to go through a laborious login process,” Thatcher said.

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