What do 3 in 1 computers mean to clinical innovators?

Hp has released the new elite X3. This is a phone with 4gb RAM, up to 2 Terabytes of storage (with an SD card) and a Snapdragon 820 processor. This is pretty powerful for a phone but it’s more than that. It runs Windows and can be plugged into a dock for a desktop experience it can also connect wirelessly to a HP lapdock, which is a light weight laptop. Yes we have come to an age where your phone is powerful enough to power desktop and laptop experiences.

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Seems great right? I mean every clinician can remember fighting to get onto a PC, only to find that when they’ve gone to check on a patient, they come back to see someone else has taken it. Simply charting something results in scribbling it down on a piece of paper (so not paperless) and then going back to the nurse’s station to try and obtain a PC. My pet hate is resus, where there are only 3 PCs. When different specialities come down and start writing lengthy notes you cannot chart anything about your patient. So having a pc in your pocket that can be docked into a desktop if you need to look at scans clearly shows that the HP elite X3 would bring much needed flexibility to computing in medicine. And the Windows operating system gives clinicians the ability to run scripts that they coded for themselves and their teams. So what’s stopping every hospital kitting people out with this?

Firstly there’s the price, £673 per unit is not cheap. If you’re going to be buying them for every member of staff, the cost isn’t justifiable. You could buy a number of them just to be used by the people on at one shift. However, anyone who’s worked in the NHS will know they will be left around, they will go missing, and they will get damaged within weeks. This is partly due to carelessness, and partly due to unpredictable patients, body fluids etc. If you’re so tech crazy that you have to have it you could buy one yourself, but good luck with integrating it with the electronic notes system. If you can’t do that you just end up with an expensive note taker. I remember a similar hype when the ipad and ipad pro came out. I saw a few managers walking around with them but after a while these seemed to also turn out to be expensive note takers. Don’t get me wrong the elite X3 looks exciting and I would definitely consider one when upgrading. However, the clinical structure will block yet another advancement in technology due to its locked down nature. I’m not kidding, clinical systems make Apple look like a hippy free for all company. The API keys that are supposed let third party developers integrate with clinical systems are limited at best and are rarely authorised. The most successful innovations I’ve seen by clinicians are where they completely bypass the system and in some cases build their own system.

So as a clinician what should you do if you want to innovate? Use what people already have. Utilise what they personally own as they will have more care over the hardware. Code web apps that can be used on clinicians’ phones. It may seem like I’m on a crusade for web apps at the moment but sadly, it’s pretty much the best option you have out of the limited range of options that are available to you.

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