Which device?

I attended the IHT2 conference this week. One of the topics that was discussed, not only in panels, but during the free times that we all had to chat, was "the proper device." This happened in a few contexts: When dicussing mobile access to EHR. when discussing providers wanting to access new EHR on existinng devices, when we were discussing netbooks vs. tablets over lunch, and when I was watching the Yankees game on my iPad during one of the forums because I was falling asleep. For the record, it was not the forum that was putting me to sleep, but rather the rather large and filling lunch that we had all just been treates to by one of the vendors.

The idea of consumer devices in Medical IT keeps coming to the forefront of conversations. I would assume that because they are so ubiquitous these days that for many they have become an extension of self. For those out there with a smart device,whether phone of tablet, can you imagine living life without it now? I certainly cannot. My house contains 6 laptops (2 in the netbook class), 3-4 smart phones, 1-2 tablets and more miscellaneous gadgets than you could imagine. The reason my number are ot exact is that I cannot figure out if the Dell Streak is a tablet or a phone. So life disconnected for me is torture and many feel the same.

There is a whole generation of new Doctors who have been connected 24/7 since they were kids, and in a few years the residents will have been connected for their entire lives. In addition there are many baby boomers (me) who rapidly adopted new technologies as they became available.

That leads us to the topic: Which device is the right device? I would put forth the hypothesis that all of them are the right devices. Not only are the devices ubiquitous these days, but browsers are on all of them, making browsers always available. There are a few caviats - now all mobile browsers support flash, but pretty much all of them support javascript and most, if not all of the new ones support HTML5. Additionally the majority of them support virtual desktops with products such as VMWare. Additionally you get better security with virtual desktops since the data never actually leaves the server.

Returning to my scenarios from above, the conclusion over lunch was that the iPad has killed the netbook market. Why? Because they are cheaper, faster and the "sit back" paradigm of browsing information makes the most sense for a screen that size. As for the Yankees game, what can I say? I am a fan and they were playing to clinch a playoff spot. But the fact that I had a device with me that allowed me to check my email, take some notes, take video of some of the events, watch a baseball game and still have enough battery power to get through an entire day plus my hour-each-way commute, means that tablets have become a real option for those who are on the move, such as doctors who need to do rounds. Is it my choice for my daily device? Yes. Need it be yours? No.