It turns out that we will be very glad that we chose to skip implementation of Windows Vista and waited for the release of Windows 7. I have been testing Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) with all of our clinical applications for six months and have found that it will work very well in our environment. It is much faster and more responsive than Vista, and even boots quicker than XP with our standard configuration. A common complaint among patients is that doctors spend too much time staring at their PCs during consultations and not enough discussing their condition. Windows 7 will help us to find solutions for this problem.
Because it has full support for multi-touch touch screens, Windows 7 will be great for notebooks and tablet PC's that our doctors can use with electronic health records. And since the multi-touch is supported within the OS, applications will better be able to utilize this feature. Optical character recognition capabilities will allow handwriting recognition that will help ease physician angst over electronic medical record adoption.
Dr. Bill Crounse, Microsoft senior director of worldwide health, says Windows 7’s support for Touch and Multi-touch will allow healthcare professionals to communicate much more meaningfully with patients. "The new OS will make it easier for them to share images and graphics in the surgery using programs and devices that exploit this type of hands-on technology."
As the use of Tablet PCs within healthcare organizations continues to grow, many information workers will welcome the improved handwriting and voice recognition functions in the new OS. "Like many physicians, my hand-writing is terrible, but Windows 7 is truly amazing in its ability to recognise my scribble," says Dr. Crounse. "It also learns, so the recognition gets better the more I use it." He says the same is true for voice recognition. “I just talk to my machine and it does what I want, from opening applications to dictating a letter."
Windows 7 also provides much better battery life, and while this is specific to notebooks and tablets, any investment that can give clinicians more minutes of mobile freedom on each charge will pay for itself. This will also mean buying less batteries and chargers for our clinics.
Another area that I expect us to see improvement in is graphics capabilities. Since implementation of our PACS, we have found all of our clinicians and technicians want more real estate on their displays. Large screen displays with touch screens are the future, and Windows 7 is going to lead the way into this future. I was very disappointed with Vista, but Microsoft has redeemed itself somewhat with Windows 7.
(Note: We will wait until the OS has been on the market for a while and the presumed kinks have been worked out. We also will wait until the upgrade makes sense within our lease replacement schedule. I expect we begin rolling it out to our 400 desktops and 200 portables in the second quarter of 2010)