Is your tablet computer “clinical grade”?

WIN13_Hiawatha_SurfacePro2_03If you’re a healthcare professional and you are thinking about buying a new tablet computer for work, here are some things I’d recommend you consider before selecting a new device. Perhaps the first question you should ask is this. Is the tablet I’d like to buy “clinical grade”? What do I mean by “clinical grade”? Well it doesn’t necessarily mean a device that is specifically built for use in hospitals and clinics. Such devices are available, but they generally cost a considerable premium over devices that are sold to consumers and general business users. Depending on your role in healthcare and where you work, you may not need a tablet computer that can be thrown across the room or submerged under water and still survive. But there are certain attributes that I would recommend you keep in mind when selecting a device that’s right for you and the way you work.

Clinical grade promises the performance, reliability, and security needed to maximize caregiver productivity and ensure the highest quality of patient care. To achieve that, look no further than the newest generation of tablet computers that are now available from a wide variety of manufacturers, including Microsoft, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Panasonic, Fujitsu, and Motion.

Using Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 tablet running Windows 8.1 as a great “template” for what we mean by “clinical grade”, here are some of the things I think you’ll want to consider when buying a tablet computer that’s going to be used in a clinical setting.

Clinical Grade Considerations

Why Important?

Surface Pro 2

Other Product ?

  Keeping it Clean

Devices must be easily sanitized to prevent the spread of infections—without damaging the device or voiding the warranty.

Certified for cleaning with Sani-Cloth Plus, CaviWipes, Covidien Alcohol Prep Pads, or any similar wipes with <70% IPA solution.


  Intel Core™ Processor

Intensive healthcare software requires enterprise-level processors for better & faster data access to support improved patient outcomes.

Powered by Intel’s core i5 processor to run even the most demanding clinical apps, while maximizing battery life.



Healthcare apps often require keyboards to quickly access menus and allow for free text entry.

Multiple quick-connect keyboard covers and dual-stage kickstand easily convert Surface from tablet to laptop.



Used all day, every day, devices need to withstand inevitable drops and spills

Solid magnesium casing & impact-resistant glass.



Protected health information (PHI) and personal data must be safeguarded

Enterprise-grade security with TPM, BitLocker drive encryption, & Secure Boot to help keep information safe.


  Ports and Connectivity

Needed to connect to peripherals such as external monitors, print documents, and transfer content

Includes a full-size USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort, and micro-SD card reader. Can also connect to Miracast displays for wireless screen display.


  Screen Size and Resolution

Clinicians need to be able to see multiple apps at the same time – e.g. your EMR and a drug reference

Full HD screen enabling snap mode to run multiple apps and applications at the same time.


  Full Versions of Healthcare Apps

When it comes to maximizing clinician productivity, read-only or limited functionality companion apps simply don’t cut it.

Runs full versions of all Windows desktop apps your healthcare business relies on, and enables on-screen keyboard and ink recognition for them.


  Stylus and Inking

Capture electronic signatures or write progress notes without compromising interaction with patients

Active digitizer w/ Palm Block for precise stylus input while maintaining face-to-face contact.


  Multiple IDs

Especially for corporate-owned devices that may need to be shared across multiple caregivers to maximize the investment

Easily add, maintain, and switch between multiple caregiver accounts with easy device manageability.


The above may not include everything you’ll want to consider when purchasing a tablet for clinical use. Depending on your clinical workflow, you may want to think about a convertible tablet or maybe even a light yet powerful, touch-enabled ultrabook. However, the information above should prove helpful no matter what device or devices you ultimately select. Why not print this out and take it along with you when you go shopping for the best device to use in your clinic or hospital.

(Special thanks to my colleagues Gareth Hall @ WW Health and Greg Davidson @ Surface for their contributions to this post.)

Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft

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