Since it’s market debut in 2010, Apple’s iPad has become a key fixture in the rapidly expanding telehealth industry. Along with a select few Android-powered devices, iOS and the little green robot have largely dominated any roles where tablets have been needed in a contemporary healthcare setting.
But according to a new report from EHR Intelligence, Android and iOS may be getting some company in the mHealth department thanks to Microsoft’s recent launch of the Surface tablet line.
With new offerings like Lync, an enterprise-grade platform similar to consumer-oriented Skype, Microsoft hopes that physicians will turn to the Surface for telehealth initiatives that are just starting to take off around the country.
“Not only Lync but Skype as well are becoming fairly predominant platforms for what I call ‘commodity’ telemedicine and telehealth services,” says Dr. Bill Crounse, Microsoft’s senior director for worldwide health. “We are seeing amazing progress at an institutional level, with people understanding and mapping out where are their patients coming from and how far are they traveling. How can we leverage this technology to better serve that population [of] patients who are being asked to travel three hours across town for a snippet of information or reassurance, when in fact this technology can be applied.”
Microsoft is clearly aware of its potential appeal to the mHealth world. As a result, the software giant is said to be working with app developers “to create tailored offerings that can assist clinical workflows and provide useful resources for providers.”
In all likelihood, it’s just the beginning of a much broader effort that will take shape as the Surface claims a larger global tablet market share.
“I understand that iOS for consumer devices – there’s no question that there has been a lot of traction there,” Dr. Crounse says. “The issue has always been how those devices plug and play in the enterprise environment. Microsoft’s footprint is very clearly in the enterprise. Up until fairly recently there really hasn’t been an alternative to what the experience has been on the iPhone or the iPad. They are brilliant, lovely devices, but they are lacking in some of the things you need, like data security, data input options, digital inking – things that doctors really want in devices. It is also about the experience of going from smartphone to tablet to laptop to desktop to the big screen in the living room. That’s what we are delivering.”