Intel, Motion Launch New Clinical Tablet PC

Computer chip-maker Intel is continuing its foray into healthcare with the introduction of a portable, infection-resistant tablet PC designed specifically for clinician use, in partnership with Austin, Texas-based tablet manufacturer Motion Computing.

"It is a new category of device, allowing doctors and nurses to work more freely," Intel Digital Health Group general manager Louis Burns said in a Tuesday Webcast to launch the computer, called the Mobile Clinical Assistant. "There's no doubt that nurses and doctors need better tools to do their jobs," Burns adds.

The Mobile Clinical Assistant is a full-powered tablet PC, weighing in at 3 pounds and distinguished by a handle molded into a chemical-resistant resin shell to protect the innards — including a shock-mounted hard drive — from heavy use and repeated disinfecting. The first model, the Motion C5, is powered by an Intel Centrino mobile processor with integrated 802.11 a/b/g wireless connectivity and contains enough battery power to run for 3 to 4 hours between charges.

Also built in are a radio-frequency identification (RFID) reader and transmitter and a 2-megapixel digital camera that can capture full-motion video. A barcode scanner is optional. "Nurses don't have to carry a separate scanning device anymore," says Motion's chief executive, Scott Eckert. Other options include Bluetooth connectivity.

Retail prices for the C5 start at $2,199, according to Eckert. The computer should be available in at least 25 countries within about two months.

Burns calls the Mobile Clinical Assistant a purely clinical product. "It's not a device designed for IT professionals," he says.

The two companies say the Mobile Clinical Assistant is the result of 18 months of rigorous, global product development, including testing at hospitals in the United States, United Kingdom, and Singapore. "We did three physical industrial designs before we put in any processors," Burns says. In an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box" last September, Burns showed a smaller prototype with the barcode reader in a different position from the final version.

About a dozen healthcare software vendors, including Cardinal Health, Cerner, Epic Systems, Allscripts, McKesson, and Siemens Medical Solutions, participated in the trials. Eckert reports that clinicians at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center tested the devices with GE Healthcare clinical systems and vitals monitors, and preliminary results showed a 60 percent increase in the accuracy of vitals in patient records in since nurses no longer had to transcribe readings.

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