Dell Pushes Its Streak Tablet Towards Medical Industry, Despite Resistance

Dell aims Streak tablet at medical industry
Dell aims Streak tablet at medical industry

Dell is lacing up its Streak tablet to make a run for the medical industry this fall, but trouble is it's chasing an industry that historically has been slow to embrace electronic patient records.

Dell plans to integrate its health care software into its new tablet computer and leverage its $3.9 billion acquisition of Perot Systems, which already serves a substantial number of hospitals and the medical community with its information technology service, according to a Reuters report Wednesday.

Dell and other technology companies have been struggling for years to break into the medical industry big time, given the market seems ripe with its realms of paper-based records stuffed into file cabinets and floor-to-ceiling shelves.

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Although Dell is aiming to get doctors and hospitals to test the device this fall, it faces a number of hurdles that other hardware and software providers have yet to successfully scale. Last year, the New England Journal of Medicine found 8% of hospitals have a basic electronic record-keeping system for patients, but less than 2% employ a comprehensive system, notes a PBS report.

The main obstacles to a wider adoption of electronic record-keeping systems are cost, resistance from doctors in learning a new system, and the absence of technology standards so various hospitals, doctors groups and other health care providers can share patient information, the PBS report notes.

The Obama administration is looking to prod health care providers to adopt electronic records in a big way and is dangling a $14 billion to $27 billion stimulus carrot in front of the industry, according to a MarketWatch report. These Medicare and Medicaid payments are expected to be doled out next year to health care providers that have demonstrated "meaningful" use of technology to transform their record-keeping systems.

While the prospect of landing some of Obama's stimulus money may push health care providers to acquire the technology from Dell and other companies, in the end it won't be a game changer if physicians don't use it.