Microsoft Surface Tabletop Computing in Healthcare

Posted on June 25, 2007 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I must admit that when I read the news about Microsoft introducing Surface Computing I really didn’t look at it from a health care perspective. I could think of 100 cool applications for the technology, but I honestly hadn’t considered it for the health care field. Of course, leave it to Dr. Bill Crounse, Microsoft Health Care blogger to point out the advantages of surface computing in healthcare.

Here’s a quote from his post on Microsoft Surface Computing in Health Care:

Yesterday, Microsoft officially launched the first commercial product from a group and technology known as Microsoft surface computing. The product is called Milan; a coffee-table sized PC that takes touch screen technology to entirely new levels and gives users a highly interactive experience with all things digital. For now, you’ll be seeing the technology in business environments such as hotels, casinos, and retail establishments. You can read more about that here:

I first told you about surface computing last July when I met with colleagues at Microsoft Research to produce a video segment for my House Calls for Healthcare Professionals series. In that video, Dr. Eric Horvitz and surface computing guru, Andy Wilson, and I talked about the technology and possible implications for the healthcare industry. At the time Andy’s work was going under the code name Play Anywhere. My head was literally spinning with ideas on how this new user interface could be used in radiology, physical therapy, anatomical pathology, and other disciplines. It also occurred to me that this new way to interact with a computer, manipulate screen images, and navigate through data could be immensely important to clinical work-flows demanding a more hands-free, no-touch solution such as might be desirable during surgery or certain medical procedures.

I think one area that he didn’t seem to mention, but he’s probably considered is interaction with patients. I could imagine the day that a surface computing tabletop is found in every exam room. The doctor could roll this table over to the patient and the doctor and patient could interact with all sorts of patient education. When diagnosing a hernia for example, they could show anatomical drawings or videos that actually show what causes a hernia and the process for fixing it. They could draw on the table as they describe the medical condition. Then, the patient could have the video that was shown by the doctor sent straight to their phone so they can take it home and show their family. Would be pretty neat.

I must admit that as I read about this technology I remembered a video I posted on my technology blog that showed a real life application of multiple inputs on a table top. I was amazed at the technology six months ago and I’m still amazed now. Take a look.