Intel unveils medical tablet PC

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Intel unveils medical tablet PC

New computing platform seeks to streamline nursing.

Intel has unveiled a new line of tablet PCs designed for hospital and clinical nurses. 

The Motion C5 device is manufactured by Motion Computing and is the first tablet PC to be based on Intel's Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) platform. 

The device is designed to streamline the gathering and updating of medical information by nurses, such as a patient's vital signs or medication doses.

"We are trying to get information into the hands of people who can actually take action," Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said during the official unveiling at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center. 

"When nurses and clinicians do their jobs, we have found that it is critical for them to have information at their fingertips."

Intel hopes that the PCs will be able to replace patient file systems that rely on information manually entered from hand-written notes.

The MCA tablets connect wirelessly to the hospital's database, providing instant updates and cutting hours from the process of gathering and evaluating a patient's medical status, according to UCSF Medical Center chief medical information officer Dr Michael Blum.

The Motion C5 weighs about 1.4kg, and has an outer coating designed to be disinfected easily with standard medical cleaners and to absorb shock from drops and collisions.

The device also includes bar-code readers, a 2-megapixel digital camera, and Bluetooth ports that allow the devices to receive information from monitoring devices such as stethoscopes.

UCSF Medical Center nurses have been testing the devices in a pilot programme at the hospital's transplant department.

Nursing director Ann Williamson told reporters that the nurses greatly preferred the tablets to the computer-on-wheels systems that the hospital currently uses to record vital patient information.

However, Williamson also noted that the small displays on the devices caused issues with the readability of text in some cases.

The C5 is scheduled for availability by May 2007. Motion Computing currently lists the price of the tablets at US$2,199.

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