What’s the best mobile operating sytem for pharmacy?

Mobile computing platforms have become somthing of a hot topic lately, especially in healthcare. What used to be something used almost exclusively by business people and gadget geeks is now mainstream among the average consumer. And to that end, mobile technology is starting to creep into the healthcare industry in large part due to the ever growing list of mobile devices, i.e. smartphones and tablets. Of course the iPad has been at the center of the discussion because it has been embraced by healthcare practitioners and has forced its way into many healthcare IT departments for better or worse. Not a day goes by now when I don’t see several physicians throughout the hospital carrying an iPad. Before the iPad it was the iPhone. See a trend here? I do.

But is the iOS the right mobile platform for pharmacy? I’m sure there are many people throughout healthcare that would argue that it is. I myself am a fan of the Android OS and would argue that it is actually a better fit for the simple reason that the platform lends itself to open development while the iOS has been largely closed to outside thought. In other words Mr. Jobs wants you to do it his way or no way, and that’s fine if you’re ok with that. I’m not. Of course you could argue that the iOS is the way to go and I couldn’t prove you wrong. At this point it’s a personal decision.

I use the Android OS as my personal mobile operating system of choice. I’ve found that it meets most, if not all of my needs. While I believe it is a better option for pharmacy than the iOS, I do not think it is the best option. Instead I find myself increasingly intrigued by the webOS, which offers some very interesting features.

The most recent version of the webOS, webOS 2.0 or HP webOS as I’ve seen it called, offers a user interface that in my opinion is second to none. The unique card view and stack features offered by webOS create an incredibly flexible multi-taking user experience. Combined with the ‘Just Type’ universal search feature and you have a powerful mobile platform capable of a great many things. The unfortunate reality is that the webOS has remained in relative obscurity and is currently available on a limited number of devices. The BlackBerry Playbook appears to borrow from the webOS with its similar user interface, but we won’t know the full extent of the functionality of that device for a while longer. We may see something more from the HP webOS tablet, but we’ll have to wait until 2011 to find out.

Check out the video below for more detailed information on webOS 2.0. You can’t help but be impressed by the functionality, beauty and usability of it all.

The card metaphor used by the webOS could benefit pharmacists by providing quick and easy access to several applications simultaneously. I can imagine pulling up drug information, patient records, a couple of websites, etc and quickly swipping through them to find what I’m looking for. This appears to be a better option than either the iOS or Android OS at this point. If HP would only expand the device offereings to include 5-inch, 7-inch and 10-inch screens, I believe you could have a healthcare device with extreme usability and functionality.

With all that said, at the moment there is no perfect mobile platform for pharmacists. The best operating system for use in healthcare is still the Windows OS, but it’s simply not well designed for use on mobile devices. That may change with Windows Phone 7, but it’s too early to tell. I don’t know if Microsoft will ever catch up with Apple or Google in terms of impact on the mobile computing market, but I would never count them out. Even though the webOS is probably the best option as a mobile paltform I currently have no plans to make a change. Until HP gives the end user signficantly more hardware choices I think they’ll be stuck at the back of the bus.

Just a thought.

5 thoughts on “What’s the best mobile operating sytem for pharmacy?”

  1. This is some great reading. Thanks for putting this out there. I’m a 4th year Pharm. D student, and my manuscript is on student utilization of mobile devices. Could I possibly pick your brain at some time in the future?

  2. Hi, I am presenting on the topic of technology in pharmacy (Oregon State University College of Pharmacy) in February. I was wondering if you could give me some good leads as to where to find the most up to date technology. I am really interested in mobile devices, but besides that, what are some other developments being utilized by pharmacists?

    What ever you can give me I would be very appreciative.


  3. Hi Aaron –

    Glad to hear that you have an interest in technology, especially mobile devices. Pretty cool stuff I know.

    Good information on pharmacy technology isn’t exactly hard to come by, but it’s certainly not easy to find either. For general information on mobile technology I find the following sites useful:

    GIGAOM (http://gigaom.com/mobile/)
    GottaBeMobile (http://www.gottabemobile.com/)
    jkkMobile (http://www.jkkmobile.com/)
    Poketables.net (http://www.pocketables.net/)
    FierceMobileHealtcare (http://www.fiercemobilehealthcare.com/)
    mobihealthnews (http://mobihealthnews.com/)

    Journals of interest include:
    Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) http://jamia.bmj.com/
    American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (http://www.ajhp.org/)

    And of course the section of Pharmacy Informatics and Technology at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) website (http://www.ashp.org/informatics).

    Good luck on your presentation. Let me know if I can be of assistance.


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