Intel and Motion Computing are working together to bring to market a tablet PC that's with specific features for the health care market. Intel has done the market research (much of it at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View), feasibility and design, while Motion Computing will be the first to manufacture the new Intel specification.

In an Intel Developer Forum presentation (pdf), Intel lays out the following requirements for a point of care computing device (my comments are in brackets):

  • Mobile, hands-free use
  • Contamination control & waterproofing [ruggedized]
  • Noise-free operation
  • Full shift battery life [that means 12 hours]
  • Sensor integration
  • Closed loop control
  • Automation, inferencing, data mining
  • Information “cockpits”

This is a great list of requirements. Somehow ruggedized didn't make the list - anything that gets carried will get dropped. Besides the second bullet, 12 hour battery life remains the biggest barrier to a truly mobile point of care device. I'm surprised no one's launched a device with A123 Systems' nano-tech batteries.

Sensor integration sounds intriguing, as does closed loop control (I'm assuming alarm notification and management) - both features push the tablet into "regulated medical device" territory. The last two bullets seem to deal with software applications rather hardware, but certainly user interface capabilities must be supported in hardware.

I remember a HIMSS summer conference several years ago; the consensus was that PDAs (that were all the rage the year before) were out, and tablets were now the ideal point of care computing device. Since then, computers on wheels (COWs) have become the point of care device of choice for bedside charting and meds administration at most hospitals. Certainly, some of the computers on COWs are tablets, but most are either laptops or component PCs built into the cart.

Time will tell whether tablets will remain an option for COWs, or a point of care device on their own. Pictured right is a close up of the Intel tablet for health care.

UPDATE: Blogger and polymath Enoch Choi picked up on this post with the following comment:

I love it when other blogs give me the dirt on devices, and of the many who wrote about it, Tim Gee, lists the details on what makes a successful portable medical computing device according to Intel. The one requirement that stands out is durability, e.g. getting dropped.

Of course all of my "dirt" comes from the public domain, and never from a client engagement. Enoch's got some great observations in his blog post. He's also got a quote from someone at El Camino Hospital who was disappointed with the final product - check it out. Since Enoch's disclosing (see the end of his post) - I should disclose that I helped OQO kick off their medical advisory board, of which Enoch was a member.