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Windows 8 Gets Its Foot in Healthcare's Door

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, April 9, 2013

Last June, I bemoaned the fact that in the midst of everything that healthcare is facing on the technology front, it was the worst possible time to upgrade to a new version of Windows.

The fall came, and Windows 8 started showing up on new PCs and tablet computers. The reviews were mixed. "I found the transition to Windows 8 rather jarring," wrote WindowsSecrets editor-in-chief Tracey Capen. The months since have continued to see unkind reviews in the technology press. One that ran this week called the operating system "clunky and cumbersome."

But as the months have ticked by, it's clear that Microsoft is determined to stay the course with Windows 8, and healthcare providers are starting to make the best of it.

They don't really have a choice.

Like the rest of corporate America, healthcare has a massive investment in Windows. The quarterly Piper Jaffray CIO survey released in February found Microsoft "the most critical 'mega-vendor' for the future," according to Redmondmag.com.

Moreover, I've recognized since Windows 8 shipped that this latest Microsoft operating system contains some elements that could serve healthcare well, despite all the negatives. Among these are

  • The superiority of today's touch-and-gesture interfaces to yesterday's point-and-click interfaces
  • The inevitable move toward tablet-friendly computing
  • Widespread physician unwillingness to jettison keyboards entirely
  • The inertia of an installed base of millions of Windows PCs that aren't going away any time soon
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