What’s the lifespan of a tablet PC in use by pharmacists?

In early September last year (2009) our hospital purchased some Dell XT2 tablets for me to roll out to the pharmacists; I got mine at the same time. My XT2 has performed pretty well for the most part with only an occasional glitch here or there. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for the tablets in use by the pharmacists on the nursing units.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had several complaints from the pharmacists; blue screens, lost wireless configuration, loss of bezel button functions, inability to rotate the screen when in slate mode, etc. Today the ICU pharmacist dropped off his tablet in my office because none of the buttons along the outer bezel would work (CTRL, rotation and tools buttons). It turned out to be an issue with the drivers, but what caught my attention was the condition the poor tablet was in. It’s only been in use for just over 6 months and it looks pretty beat up. Apparently the XT2 isn’t designed to take the rigors of a pharmacists daily routine.

With all the iPads we have running around our hospital now it got me wondering how they’re going to hold up once we start pounding on them day in and day out. I’m guessing not well. I suppose no device is perfect as is so eloquently described by James Kendrik at jkOnTheRun, but I don’t mind saying that I’m more than a little concerned. Oh well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Just in case you were wondering, the Motion J3400 used by the pediatric pharmacist has held up much better and is still in good shape. That’s something to keep in the back of my mind for the future.

2 thoughts on “What’s the lifespan of a tablet PC in use by pharmacists?”

  1. Darn, I wonder how an iPad would hold up? Hopefully the aluminum body and lack of buttons around the border would keep it from getting too beat up?

    Interesting post. It’s nice to see real world use examples. Dell need to hear this stuff so they can make design changes, or at a minimum, point you to a model that’s better for use in the pharmacy.

  2. I don’t think the iPad will hold up well at all; just speculation of course. It was never designed for this kind of work. I figure we’ll break, bust, drop, ding and/or scratch several before we figure out what to do. I think the screen will probably be the most problematic.

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