Dell’s new tablet phone designed for medical use by health care community

Dell’s recently released tablet, the “Streak”, was actually designed with the medical community in mind.

Jamie Coffin, vice president of Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences, says Dell thought about the form factor of the device in relation to a lab coat – along with other types of functionality the device delivers such as front and back facing cameras and video conferencing.

The key though is Dell’s planned integration with their established health care software.  They want the Streak to be used to access electronic medical records and other patient data via secure networks.

We’ve documented before how Dell has close partnerships with electronic medical record companies, but it’s obvious Dell is hoping for a more intimate relationship with the health care sector after they spent $3.9 billion late last year acquiring Perot Systems, a technology services provider. Almost half of Perot Systems revenue comes from the health care industry and the main driver for Dell’s acquisition was to be a player in the 2009 Recovery Act’s stimulus reimbursements for the adoption of electronic health records.

Dell made sure to take a few knocks at Apple’s iPad when mentioning the Streak and health care – saying the iPad does not provide enough “functionality” for health care professionals and the iPhone 4 is too small for physicians to use with patients.

The Streak’s screen size is 5 inches, smaller than the 9.7 inches offered by the iPad, and larger than the 3.5 inches offered by the iPhone. The tablet is actually designed to work as a phone as well – albeit an over sized one.

Features that make it appealing for the medical community:

*Syncing with Dell’s existing health care software systems

*Long battery life: Some reviews estimate 10 hours on one full charge. Battery is also removable, allowing for easy replacement when used for extended periods

*Front facing and back facing cameras: Ability to video conference – we have mentioned how medical video conferencing (telemedicine) is a hotly debated topic in regards to physician reimbursement.

*Ability to work as a phone (3G Cellular Network): The key here is the ability to use the device to access off site patient data when not connected to Wi-Fi – such as in a mobile health care setting or in clinics without Wi-Fi networks.

*Relatively inexpensive when compared to other health care tablets: The Streak costs $549.99, or $299.99 with a 2-year contract from AT&T.

Features that don’t make it so appealing:

*800 by 480 LCD screen: Although a relatively good screen resolution, the iPad boasts 1024 by 768

*Price:  Even though the Streak is still relatively inexpensive compared to health care tablets, it’s one third the size of the iPad yet costs more than a standard iPad, and only $80 less than a 3G iPad.

*Form factor: Although it’s definitely bigger than an iPhone, it’s significantly smaller than an iPad. When viewing medical imaging and electronic health records, real estate on the screen is a must and this size might be too small.  It could be argued the 5 inch screen barely makes the device a tablet in the first place.

Final Thoughts:

The Streak tablet phone runs on the Android platform and will link to patient information stored in databases using an app on the phone. Dell expects to start testing the tablet with physicians later this year.

This tablet by Dell is definitely different than other traditional health care tablets. Not only is it smaller, but also significantly less expensive. The ability to connect to the internet using a 3G carrier is crucial for off site access of patient data or for home health purposes. The tablet also had a relatively long battery life and if Dell can properly implement it with their currently health care software infrastructure there is a chance it could gain wide acceptance in the medical community.

One of the biggest questions this implementation by Dell raises – Since they are running the Android OS, and the EMR functionality will be provided by an app on the device, will other Android phones be able to access the same information via the App?  Or will the App somehow be exclusive to the Dell Streak?  This is  a question that will surely be raised as the tablet undergoes further testing in the health care field, especially for those that might be a fan of Dell’s health care infrastructure, but not their hardware.

The following is a hands on video review of the Dell Streak:

Story Source: Reuters via Gizmodo
Other Sources: Wall Street Journal, Engadget

Author:

Iltifat Husain, MD

Founder, Editor-in-Chief of iMedicalApps.com. Emergency Medicine Faculty and Director of Mobile App curriculum at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

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9 Responses to Dell’s new tablet phone designed for medical use by health care community

  1. Wellescent Health September 15, 2010 at 10:04 am #

    The battery life and size seem to be a plus, but the black case and construction doesn’t look offhand like something best suited for a medical environment. Although pricey, the aluminum case and pseudo sealed nature of the Apple products is more conducive to use in the the medical field.

    • Iltifat Husain September 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

      The current form factor for both isn’t necessarily conducive to use in the medical field. Really, a medical grade case is required for either devices to be extensively used – it’s the simplest solution.

  2. drrjv September 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    I’m sticking with my iPad and iPhone.

    Facetime on the iPhone 4 works great and has some real potential in medicine (can you show me that wound; can I see the seizure?). The iPhone has more pixels on the screen 960 x 640 and costs $100 less than the Streak.

    In it’s present form, the iPad/iPhone work great whether accessing medical information thru the web or using Remote Desktop or Citrix (full Windows compatibility).

    • Iltifat Husain September 18, 2010 at 3:04 am #

      Yea, I think integration with Dell’s existing health care system is a huge plus – but like you mention, from a strictly hardware standpoint – they don’t have an advantage.

  3. Ray December 18, 2010 at 3:03 am #

    From the perspective of a resident physician, what is needed is a camera to document rashes or abnormal PE, a quiet keyboard, i.e. touch, to chart while in conference, adaptability for downloading and scanning in documents, a long battery life, the ability to print, to access the hospital’s intranet, affordability and portability.

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