Microsoft Surface Enters mHealth Market
Apple made waves in the healthcare market with the launch of its iPad a couple of years ago. The portable, easy to use device appealed to doctors and healthcare execs owing to its scope for developing healthcare specific apps and its complete portability. Since its launch, the iPad Mini, the Galaxy Tab and the Kindle to name just a few have also jumped on board the healthcare bandwagon, after recognizing the growth of EHR, telehealth and mHealth. The latest competitor to enter the market is Microsoft, with its Surface and Surface Pro tablets.
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To date, the Surface and Surface Pro have had mixed reviews from consumers, however Microsoft is confident that the devices will appeal to professional and business audiences, specifically those within the healthcare industry. The launch of its Windows 8 interface also gives the corporation hope, with it already gaining positive feedback from business users; the suite of cloud products is likely to be a winner within the medical marketplace considering the mass uptake of cloud based EHR solutions in recent months.
Reports also suggest that new offerings like Lync, an enterprise grade platform similar to consumer-orientated Skype, will appeal to doctors as they increasingly communicate with patients via telehealth platforms.
“Not only Lync but Skype as well are becoming fairly predominant platforms for what I call ‘commodity’ telemedicine and telehealth services,” Dr Bill Crounse, Microsoft’s Senior Director for Worldwide Health, told Pulse IT Magazine. “We are seeing amazing progress at an institutional level, with people understanding and mapping out where their patients are coming from and how far they are travelling. How can we leverage this technology to better serve that population [of] patients who are being asked to travel three hours across town for a snippet of information or reassurance, when in fact this technology can be applied.”
Microsoft Surface and Surface Pro Enters The mHealth Market
Fighting Off The Competition
The Surface is entering a tough and pretty saturated market place, and will come head to head with more established products like the iPad, and its new, smaller and lighter cousin, the iPad Mini. Its hefty price tag may also see it struggle for buy in with doctors, especially in the increasingly BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment.
However Crounse is optimistic that the Surface will rise to the challenge. “With [the Surface] and a little bandwidth, I can be a global telemedicine provider, and that’s the difference. I’m forecasting some fairly fundamental changes in lesser skilled people, armed with smart technology, being able to scale healthcare services in ways that we haven’t seen before. The value of both Lync and Skype is in the reliability of the platform and the ease of use. You can’t underestimate the ease of use, whether we are talking about consumers or clinicians. And with things like integrating scheduling, it just makes it easy.”
Developing Healthcare Apps
To bolster its appeal to the healthcare sector, Microsoft is working with app developers to create tailored offerings that can assist clinical workflows and provide useful resources for providers. Cerner and Epic, two popular EHR vendors, have already created EHR interfaces for the Surface and Windows 8, allowing clinicians to access patient data from the tablet itself.
“I understand that iOS for consumer devices – there’s no question that there has been a lot of traction there,” Crounse admits. “The issue has always been how those devices plug and play in the enterprise environment. Microsoft’s footprint is very clearly in the enterprise. Up until fairly recently there really hasn’t been an alternative to what the experience has been on the iPhone or the iPad. They are brilliant, lovely devices, but they are lacking in some of the things you need, like data security, data input options, digital inking – things that doctors really want in devices. It is also about the experience of going from smartphone to tablet to laptop to desktop to the big screen in the living room. That’s what we are delivering.”
OMNI: First-ever platform to launch citizen RPA developers
Robotic process automation (RPA) is the fastest growing segment of the enterprise software market due to its many benefits - from reducing manual errors to processing tasks faster. For businesses to truly benefit from this technology, RPA needs democratisation, and this is where citizen RPA development comes in.
Gartner describes a citizen RPA developer as "a user who creates new business applications for consumption by others using development and runtime environments sanctioned by corporate IT.” This could be anyone using IT tools and technology, not limited to IT specialists.
The work citizen RPA developers do spans from identifying automation opportunities to developing RPA architecture and solution proposals, focusing on scalability and extensibility. By deploying citizen RPA developers, organisations can enable enterprise automation and digital transformation on a much larger scale.
This is particularly beneficial for businesses struggling to undertake digital transformation, as a citizen RPA development programme can help drive adoption of automation as a strategic growth driver at multiple levels. With increased adoption, the cost of digital transformation becomes lower, increasing RoI.
Technology needs to be democratised – right from low-code and no-code platforms, business process modelling and identifying automation opportunities to decision-makers at all levels, creating a pool of early adopters. This group could comprise people across different functions, especially those who are aware of customer preferences, industry trends and end user experience.
But how can organisations harness the power of citizen RPA development? Step forward AiRo Digital Labs, a Chicago-headquartered global tech company.
AiRo provides innovative digital and automation solutions for the healthcare, pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors. In 2021 they launched OMNI, a subscription-based, SaaS platform to help clients accelerate their citizen RPA developer program and build digital centres of excellence (COE) within their organisation.
OMNI provides a personal RPA coach and virtual digital playground that helps enterprises rapidly build and scale automation, removing the risk of failure or talent gaps. The latter is key as research has shown that digitalisation is far more successful when championed by internal employees.
This has the added bonus of empowering employees - who will self-learn technologies including robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence, machine learning, chatbots, and natural language processing (NLP), reducing the lead time for new applications and technology, as well as reducing technical gaps, making up for skills shortages and enabling their business to respond faster to critical market challenges. The virtual sandbox within OMNI gives access to all the major intelligent automation platforms where citizen RPA developers can build DIY digital prototypes. Additionally, they can access more than 150 digital assets within OMNI marketplace.
The platinum helpdesk of OMNI acts as your personal coach and is available 24 x 7 to address issues during the digital learning, prototype building, and digital governance journey.
Another key benefit is that it enables digitalisation to be bespoke to each organisation, compared to off-the-shelves initiatives plugged into the enterprise. Individual organisation's objectives decide the scope and size of the process.
As Gartner state, in today’s world of SaaS, cloud, low-code and “no-code” tools, everyone can be a developer.