Next-Generation Tablets: The Missing Link in Healthcare Communications?


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The tablet-type computer has been utilized in the healthcare industry for decades now, and
some may wonder if today’s new, more consumer-oriented tablets will supplant their older,
more specialized predecessors.

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Next-Generation Tablets: The Missing Link in Healthcare Communications?

  1. 1. May 2011 Next-Generation Tablets:The Missing Link in Healthcare Communications? Jeanine Sterling, Senior Industry Analyst “We Accelerate Growth”
  2. 2. Next-Generation Tablets: The Missing Link in Healthcare Communications? Market InsightThe tablet-type computer has been utilized in the healthcare industry for decades now, andsome may wonder if today’s new, more consumer-oriented tablets will supplant their older,more specialized predecessors.Instead, Frost & Sullivan anticipates that both the traditional and next-gen tablets will existside-by-side and experience little cannibalization impact. The traditional, more utilitarianmedical tablet will always have a place in certain healthcare environments—i.e., where higherprocessing capabilities and the desktop version of Microsoft Windows are still required.The latest generation of tablet devices, on the other hand, promises rapid expansion into newhealthcare user groups that may have previously rejected other mobile form factors—includingthe bulkier specialized medical tablet, the laptop computer, or a smartphone. Today’s moreconsumerized tablet can fill the void that has existed around these other mobile categories.Next-generation tablets are significantly less expensive than the traditional medical tablet or anenterprise laptop computer, thereby eliminating a major purchase barrier. And the new tablet’sslim, lightweight form factor combines with a sizeable screen and robust processing power thatsmartphones have just been too small to provide.The healthcare industry typically lags other types of businesses when it comes to introducingmobile devices. However, any hesitation to evaluate and deploy today’s new tablets may bemitigated by the following conclusions in a recently-published Frost & Sullivan study 1 :Next-Gen Tablet Market Will Experience Significant Growth—Category obsolescenceshould not be a concern. Tablets, unlike netbooks, look like they are here to stay. The Frost &Sullivan forecast anticipates world shipments of next-gen tablets, across both business andconsumer sectors, to almost quadruple from 38.6 million in 2011 to over 142.3 million in 2016.Healthcare is expected to be one of many business markets contributing to this rapid growth in sales.Pricing Will Become More Competitive—The average tablet price this year is calculatedat $565, with lower-end models already offering an attractive alternative to laptop businesscomputers. For mobile handhelds, however, this price point is viewed as still somewhat pricey.As new participants enter this market, tablet vendors will be struggling to differentiatethemselves in the eyes of prospective buyers. As competition heats up, prices are expected todrop significantly—good news to cost-conscious healthcare providers.Features and Capabilities Will Continue to Evolve—After a gradual start, new tabletproducts are being released rapidly. Device manufacturers are already incorporating newfeatures and capabilities, many of which are very applicable in the healthcare sector: • Screen Size: Larger tablet screens fall into the 9.7”–10.1” range and can be utilized in various healthcare settings. However, those tablets in the next size category (6”-8”) are lighter, consume less power, and fit into a lab coat pocket. These show significant potential. Smaller tablets (with screen sizes that are 5” or smaller) will face stiff competition from smartphones and are not expected to thrive in medical environments. • Screen Resolution: Current tablet screen resolution strength varies from 320x240 to 1280x800. In the next-gen tablet marketplace as a whole, most devices are expected to 1 “World Next-Generation Tablets Market,” Frost & Sullivan, March 2011.© 2011 Frost & Sullivan Page 2
  3. 3. Next-Generation Tablets: The Missing Link in Healthcare Communications? Market Insight evolve to one of three resolution levels: 1280x800, 1024x600, or 800x480. In the healthcare segment, with its need for crisp imaging, the two higher resolution displays will predominate. • Screen Technology: Screen technologies will be battling for predominance over the short term. LED LCD technology was first out of the gate. However, the majority of more recent introductions are expected to be equipped with standard TFT LCD technology to help reduce the cost of the device. Other technologies, such as Qualcomm’s Mirasol® and Pixel Qi, also have the potential to gain converts. Multiple options will allow healthcare providers to choose the technology that best addresses their needs. • Connectivity: The majority of tablets sold in 2010 were WiFi-only. This is expected to change, with 3G/4G connectivity becoming more common. Having a choice of connectivity options is an important capability for healthcare providers, given the variety of settings and locations in which these devices will be utilized. The cellular network option—especially 4G—allows the type of quick, massive data throughput that medical diagnostic imaging regularly requires. • Hard Drives: Larger, mechanical hard drives are not ideal for tablets due to their size, weight, and power consumption requirements. Flash hard drives are expected to be more common and typically range from 8GB to 32GB, although larger capacity flash hard drives will like by available on the high-end tablet models. • Cameras: Photo and video capabilities are a perfect example of how tablet capabilities will quickly evolve. While initial next-gen tablet models offered no camera at all, in only months, dual cameras are becoming the norm. Front and back cameras are especially useful in the healthcare industry at point of care. They allow clinicians to quickly capture and add images of a patient’s medical condition to his or her individual medical record. They also provide a visual image to share and discuss with colleagues. And they enable convenient videoconferencing with other providers. Additional feature and capability refinements are anticipated as next-gen tablets penetrate the U.S. marketplace and solidify their place in the pantheon of mobile device alternatives. The majority of these improvements are expected to have immediate application in healthcare settings—including in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and patient homecare. As today’s next-gen tablet market evolves and expands, it will be important to have a trusted mobility partner that understands the communications needs of the U.S. healthcare sector, regularly vets the best- in-class alternatives in this device category, and provides high-quality support for successful deployments. About Frost & Sullivan Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best-in-class positions in growth, innovation and leadership. The companys Growth Partnership Service provides the CEO and the CEOs Growth Team with disciplined research and best-practice models to drive the generation, evaluation, and implementation of powerful growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan leverages 50 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses and the investment community from over 40 offices on six continents. To join our Growth Partnership, please visit O N TA C T U S 877.GoFrost (877.463.7678) • •