Wacom STU-500 Signature Tablet Review

Posted on February 15, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One thing I love about blogging is that on occasion you get access to all sorts of cool toys to try out and write about. Ok, my inner geek is coming out that I call these toys. Others probably call them useful devices for work. However, you look at it, I was excited when Wacom asked if I was interested in trying out the Wacom Sign&Save signature pad.

I’ve long been a fan of the signature pad since I implemented one at check-in kiosks about 5 years ago. I was amazed at how a signature pad could remove so much paper from the office. Turns out the same is true for my HealthcareScene.com business. The only time I really have to print something out is when I have to sign the paper. This always annoys me since I basically sign the paper and then scan the signed paper back into my computer so I can send the signed document to someone.

With this in mind I was ready to test out the Wacom STU-500 signature pad with Wacom’s sign | pro PDF software. Here’s the corporate description of the product with a nice picture:

Wacom’s sign&save is a plug-and-play signature capture solution for small to medium size businesses that are seeking to improve customer-facing digital transaction processes. The sign&save solution combines a Wacom signature tablet with the company’s newly designed software, called sign | pro PDF, to deliver an affordable and efficient way to integrate electronic handwritten signatures into a business’s daily workflow. Both versions are easy to connect to Windows®-based personal computers. Additionally, each signature tablet is able to capture the static and biometric aspects of individual signatures, providing an effective defense against fraud. The STU-500, has a larger and higher resolution screen than the baseline version, and is ideal for uses that require more real estate for a premium signing experience.

The setup and install of the device was really easy. I installed the software and plugged the device into my USB port and I was ready to go. I do wish that the instructions would have said whether I should have waited to insert the device into the USB port before installing the software or not. My guess is that in this case it doesn’t matter, but since in some cases it does matter I would have liked them to say which was preferred or that it didn’t matter if that was the case. Either way, I got it installed and started using it really quickly.

I also loved that the pen that you use doesn’t require a battery or any sort of cord attachment to be able to communicate with the signature pad. Although, it did have a small camera cord like strap that would be nice to be sure someone doesn’t accidentally run away with the pen. I would have preferred more of a snap in “dock” for the pen, but the spot for the pen wasn’t terrible.

I’ve had quite a few experiences with signature pads and I’m happy to say that the Wacom STU-500 worked really well. From my experience the real key to a successful signature pad is the LCD screen where you can see what’s being written. I’ve tried some other cheaper models and the experience is terrible. I’d try and sign my name on these cheap models and it would turn out on screen like my two year old son had scribbled on it. I had no such problems with the STU-500. It captured my signature just the way I wrote it and displayed it very nicely on the document.

PDF Software
For my purposes, I tested the signature pad out on the newly designed software: sign | pro PDF. I really liked the simple interface for being able to add a signature to a PDF. I did run into a couple problems using the software. First, one of the documents that I wanted to sign was in some sort of secure format and so I could only view the document. I could probably have asked the person who sent me the document to send it to me another way, but it was just easier to print and scan. Although, in the future I’ll ask him to send the document unsecured.

The second problem I ran into is that sometimes I wanted to put my signature in a small space. When I tried to do this the software kind of freaked out and put a big old fat signature across the page. Not too big of a deal. I just reopened the PDF and made the area I wanted to sign bigger and I was good to go. I do wish that they had an undo button for when I don’t like the way the signature I added looks. I couldn’t find one at least and the regular ctrl-x keyboard shortcut didn’t work either.

Here’s a video which shows this software and the signature pad in action:

Interfaces/SDK Packages
I obviously didn’t dig into the Wacom SDK packages that you’d want to use to integrate this with your EHR software. Although, I asked what SDK packages they have available for those EHR vendors or other healthcare IT software vendors that want to be able to integrate a signature pad into their software. In fact, they said they have two SDK packages available. One of them is a basic package and the other an advanced package which also includes a licensing fee. I imagine with the advanced package you could integrate some much more advanced workflows that go beyond just signing something as well.

I found the Wacom STU-500 to be a really fine quality product. It could see this signature pad implemented in a number of clinics and saving a lot of paper. Be sure to consult a lawyer to make sure of the laws in your state regarding signatures captured electronically, but I imagine in most states this won’t be an issue.

I’m looking forward to printing less and less as I will continue to sign all the documents I get with the Wacom signature pad. As I use it over time, I’ll be happy to provide an update if I learn anything new. If an EHR or other software vendor checks out the SDK’s and wants to do a full writeup, I’d love to include that in the future as well.