Tablet PCs & OSCAR McMaster™
Tablet PCs work well with OSCAR McMaster and many other applications. As with all technologies, it has limitations and there a number of features that may not be obvious when you first use it. We suggest that everyone tries them out to see first-hand what they are like and to use this article as a guide for how to use them.
This article was originally written in April 2010 by Roy Miller, an executive at CanEMR Medical Solutions, who has used Tablet PCs and pen-based computing for over two decades. Although passionate for Tablet PCs, he receives no financial benefits from their sales other than they make his work so much more enjoyable and productive.
Periodic updates to this article have been made by Roy as summarized below:
|Article Significant Change Log|
|2010-04-17||New: Article on-line|
|2010-04-21||Add: Tablet use in entering and editing diagrams, pictures, etc.|
|2010-04-21||Add: Information about use of tablets during collaborative remote communications|
|2010-04-21||Add: Information about Corel Grafigo 2 tablet-specific drawing assistant|
|2010-06-01||Add: Pointer to YouTube video of HP tablet demonstration|
|2010-08-17||Rev. Add info on new HP tm2-2050 tablet that is replacing the older HP tm2-1070 model.|
|2010-08-20||Add: Reading books on your tablet using Kobo eReader|
|2010-10-03||Add. New HP tm2-2150 tablet released as a follow on to the tm2-2050 model.|
|2010-11-07||Add: New HP Slate 500 tablet better for medical use than iPad?|
|2011-03-01||Rev: Updated prices and availability information and minor changes throughout.|
|2011-07-06||Rev: Updated information on the HP Slate 500 tablet and the new (July 2011) release of the HP TouchPad and how they differ.|
What is a Tablet PC?
- A Tablet PC in this discussion will usually mean the popular "convertible tablet" format. When you open it up it will look like a typical laptop.
- The term "tablet" recently has also referred to devices like the Apple iPad that looks more like the display part cut off from a typical laptop. HP announced the HP Slate 500 which resembles an iPad in size but includes a stylus "pen" and two cameras as well as runs software developed for the Windows 7 environment. More on this HP device planned by end of July 2011. This device has been available in Canada since March 2011. Check-out the specs from HP. Note: there is also a HP TouchPad being released in July 2011 featuring HP's WebOS system. Although this device looks almost the same as the HP Slate 500 it is quite different. The TouchPad appears to be targeted at Apple's iPad market. Compared to the HP Slate it does not have a rear-facing camera, nor a stylus, and runs software using HP's WebOS instead of Windows 7 so it cannot directly use software developed for Windows like the Slate 500.
- A (convertible) Tablet PC is a fully-functional PC laptop plus it has the ability to sense and respond to a stylus that acts as a "pen" and pointer when used near or on the screen. PCs whose screens are just touch sensitive without being able to detect the nearby presence of a pen will not be able to do the functions described below.
- By fully-functional PC, we mean the ability to run everything that a PC laptop can. You can connect to OSCAR McMaster and other web pages with Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE) and/or any of a multitude of other browsers such as Mozillia's FireFox. You can also run all the Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the open source versions in the OpenOffice package. Plus you can watch videos, check your email, read and annotate a book, run Dragon Naturally Speaking to convert your voice into text, etc. You can send and receive faxes via a standard telephone line. You can be connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet and connect to Bluetooth and USB devices. You can attach a device to read health cards with their magnetic stripes and even run an OSCAR server under a virtual machine running Ubuntu all on the same Tablet PC. Newer tablets even support MultiTouch sensitive screens in addition to the tablet pen functions.
- Typically the Tablet PC has the ability of the screen to rotate and fold over the keyboard. In this mode the keyboard is hidden and the PC can be held in one hand and used like a pad of paper. The tablet can also be placed flat on a table or a stand at a 30 degree angle as desired. The screen image can be displayed in portrait or landscape orientation as needed. The Tablet functions work the same way no matter what display orientation is used and even works when the PC is in Laptop Mode.
- Enables use in environments that standard PCs are not
usually used or tolerated
- Patient encounters where you want to maintain eye contact and still make notes in a similar way you did on traditional plain paper or forms
- During meetings or conferences small or large
- While standing such as during hospital or home visits
- While relaxing in your favourite chair
- You can still use an external USB connected keyboard in tablet mode if you want.
What the Pen Does
- Acts like a pointer similar to a PC mouse except you never have to find where your cursor was so you can move it to the new location. With a pen you just point to your new location. No need to use the typical touch pad that most laptops have as a mouse substitute.
- Can be used to annotate, draw, write, sign your name and erase. The erase function works like it a pencil -- just pretend there is an eraser at the other end of the stylus -- a very natural action
- To highlight text just click an option and the pen changes into a yellow highlighter
- Change color or thickness of the pen or highlighter
- Just double tap the pen on a web link and away you go
- Press and hold pen at a spot to display the alternate click options
- Fill out web forms by tapping on selections you want in a quick and natural way
- Tap on a screen image of a keyboard if you want to enter text that way
Handwriting on the Tablet
- You can print or write longhand on a Tablet PC. You can get the computer to try and understand what you wrote. It is best not to assume that the computer will be able to read your input that you randomly write. If you slow down and pay attention to your writing and printing, the computer will do surprisingly well. But it will not be perfect and so it is not too useful to enter more than a line or two of handwriting that you want interpreted.
- In many cases it will be OK to leave your writing the way you entered it -- that is without the computer trying to figure it out. You can file this document as "ink" and recall it later or even print and fax it if necessary. The "ink" file is not stored as a JPEG or other image file but rather as a much smaller file of the character strokes you entered. Of course you don't have to know how this works but it is useful to know that ink files are relatively compact.
- When signing a document you don't want the computer to try to decode it.
- You always have the choice of using the pop-up image of a keyboard when you want to enter a string of characters. Tapping the visual image of the keys can be quite natural and fast.
- You can enter any of the world's languages without having to keyboard them. In terms of numbers, most people in the world cannot keyboard their language unlike those of us who use languages like English, French, and Spanish.
OSCAR Tablet Usage
- Tablets are ideal during patient encounters. You avoid having to show the patient your typing "skills", you keep your eyes on the patient, and are able to navigate OSCAR pages and any other web pages using a point and tap interface. The doctor can go back at charting time and expand on the handwritten notes in their office or even off-site.
- Useful as a tool to help doctors transition from paper based charts to electronic format. Even if the doctor writes out everything like they used to, the patient still benefits by having their medical information being backed up off-site together with the records that are typed in by other doctors.
- Doctors can sketch injuries into the patients charts using the very natural pen on paper model. Existing diagrams, pictures, or x-rays can be annotated and edited easily and naturally using the pen vs. trying to do these operations with a mouse or touchpad.
- Remote communications such as online conferences involving writing to a common white board object or reviewing medical images from a distance is a powerful and very natural action when using a Tablet PC.
Tablet Specific Programs
- Journal is included with Microsoft's Tablet support. (In Windows 7 it is buried under Accessories>Tablet PC>Windows Journal.) This single program adds immense function to your tablet. Using the familiar model of a pad of paper, you can write, print, sketch on its "sheets". Plus your sheets of "paper" can be lined in various ways including graph paper. You can even open up space between your written lines of notes to add additional items. The program can fix up your hand drawn boxes and circles to look nicer. You can print documents such as web pages to the Journal "paper" instead of to physical paper. You can then later read them, annotate, sign, and highlight parts of them, and even fax them to someone else.
- OneNote works particularly well on a Tablet. Part of the Microsoft Office package of products, it incorporates the features of the Journal program and extends its concepts. It is extremely powerful in organizing your notes using the model of a series of notebook binders complete with search capabilities. Personally I find this program one of best computer applications available anywhere. You can take snippets from web pages, emails, etc. and save them on one computer and have them available on other computers on your network through its automatic synchronizing features. If the computer is not currently on the network it will synchronize your notes when you are next connected. OneNote will work on non-tablet PCs too but will obviously lack the tablet functionality.
- Kobo eReader works on a wide range of devices from PDAs to Tablet PCs. Although it works on a regular PC, a PC Tablet is an ideal viewing device complete with annotations, clipping and web lookup especially when used with OneNote . The Kobo eReader software is a free download and you have access to millions of eBooks including current books that you can purchase for immediate download and reading. See http://www.kobobooks.com for more information. You can publish documents about your specialty in Kobo eBook format on your own or with the help of CanPub Inc.
- Grafigo 2 by Corel was written specifically for Windows Tablet PC. This pen-based business graphics software truly enables graphics on the go. It offers innovative features such as Drawing Assistance functions for line straightening and alignment, symmetry recognition and snapping, that work together to convert the shapes you draw into perfect forms.
Suggested Tablet PCs
- There are many vendors of Tablet computers. Examples include HP, IBM, and Toshiba. Microsoft Tablet software for XP and Windows 7 work well. Below are suggested tablets together with their Canadian price as of March 1,2011. (They all happen to be HP brand but other brands are good too.)
- Reconditioned Tablet PCs make Tablet computing very affordable. We use some 5-year old reconditioned HP Compaq tc4200 Tablet PCs for our daily production work. They can be bought for bargin prices. Search your local online classified Kijiji.ca site for them or try a Google search for "tc4200 Canada". Model tc4400 is similar and slightly faster though not so easy to find now.
- HP TouchSmart Model tm2-2150ca Intel Core i3-330-UM processor, 320Gb disk, 4Gb RAM and Windows 7. [HP#XG893UA#ABC]. In Canada it is sold with both English and French documentation in the same box with English and/or French keyboard support selectable. Newly available in October 2010, this laptop/tablet is priced at $899.99 (shipping included) from the HP Canada store It is available for $859.99 (shipping included) from Costco.ca (online only -- not at their stores. Search for "2150ca"). Some other electronic stores may sell it as well. Comes with built-in web camera, and fingerprint sensor. Has MultiTouch touch sensitive screen in addition to the standard Tablet PC features. Curiously the box it comes in stresses the MultiTouch feature and hardly mentions the pen and tablet mode that makes the laptop extra special.
- HP TouchSmart Model tm2-2050ca Intel Core i3-330-UM processor, 500Gb disk, 4Gb RAM and Windows 7 . [HP#WQ699UA#ABC]. This model is an older version of the tm2-2150ca above which seems to have replaced it albeit with a smaller disk.
- The older HP TouchSmart Model tm2-1070ca is very similar to the 2150 model described above but has a slower Intel Core 2 Duo processor. It is still very current in its features and is probably still a good buy if sold for $700 or less. We have personally used this older 1070ca laptop model and set one up as a fully functional OSCAR machine complete with a OSCAR server also running on it under a virtual machine. Personally, I turned off its touch capability and run with its pen capability to avoid accidental touch responses. This Tablet PC is demonstrated on a YouTube video.
- HP EliteBook 2740p Tablet PC with Windows 7. The one we would like to own. First available in May 2010 with price starting around $1,699 (2GbRAM, 256GB disk). Has the features of the HP tm2-2150 described above plus a bunch more including the faster Intel i5 or i7 processors. Features tough design including hard disk that protects data from drops and sudden impacts. With the optional solid state drives instead of turning disks you get even more ruggedness and power saving too. Its keyboard is spill-resistant and even features drains! Its screen is better and you can get an optional one that works better outside in the sun. GPS support is also available. Check the current prices and options at the HP Canada store and search for "2740p".
- With Tablet PCs, and OSCAR you will be able to replace the standard "take two tablets and call me in the morning with take this signed prescription printout from my tablet and email me in the morning.
- Comments? Send email to CanEMR
- Latest additions to Microsoft's Tablet PC support
- HP TouchSmart Model TM2-1070CA video on YouTube. Demo applies to TM2-1070US, TM2-2050US, and TM2-2050CA models as well.
- HP TouchSmart Model TM2 models 60-second video overview on YouTube.
- Online magazine (PenComputing.com) covering Tablet PCs, iPads, ruggedized PCs, and mobile computing in general