Mobile computing and wireless communications firm Motion Computing is collaborating with US computer chip manufacturer Intel to create a new tablet PC specifically for the healthcare sector called the mobile clinical assistant.

Motion Computing has been working with Intel for over three years now and has an existing range of Tablet PCs in the UK which are used by a number of healthcare organisations.

Andrew Toal, business development manager, Motion Computing (UK) told E-Health Insider that he is keen to see similar success for tablet PCs which would specifically address the need to automate healthcare and remove unnecessary administrative burdens.

“We have seen how tablet PCs have become more widely used in the American healthcare market and the success inspired us to bring the project over to the UK and Europe and expand on the healthcare market, which is a very significant part of our business.”

Toal added: “If this becomes a proven solution for bedside treatments, then it is possible that Connecting for Health will show interest in this technology and we can train more users throughout England.”

Louis Burns, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Digital Health Group said: “Intel is excited to be working with Motion to bring the mobile clinical assistant to the healthcare market segment and to address the unmet needs of nurses and physicians.”

Motion Computing’s CEO Scott Eckert said: “It is all about technology integration and ease of use, with relevant and innovative features, software and design elements chosen to help nurses and clinicians deliver patient care more safely and efficiently.”

The new mobile clinical assistant will run using Motion’s existing tablet PC products and is being designed to advance the effectiveness of nurses, physicians and other clinicians. Toal told EHI that there were many questions about the ergonomics of the project that were being addressed and the product itself will probably not be released until mid-2007.

“The key thing that we are learning from staff about our plans to launch a mobile clinical assistant is not worry about the IT itself, but to ensure that we concentrate on the care-giving. The tablet needs to be a clinical aid, capable of improving the quality of care and the amount of time spent on delivering that care

“We have also had to address issues where staff here thought the technology we were using wasn’t mature enough and we have had to implement new technology such as RFID [Radio Frequency Identification Devices] and wireless transmissions in order to keep the product as effective as possible.”

However, Toal feels confident that tablet PCs will become the new norm for mobile medicine in the near future despite fears about durability and safety.

“There will always be barriers, but we are working hard to overcome these. Battery life and security issues are topics which will inevitably be part and parcel of the debate surrounding mobile technology, but I do believe that clinicians will soon be able to carry mini-tablets on them to every patient they see and be capable of producing the best patient care possible.

“We are looking into making our batteries last as long as possible and are continuously launching new batteries with longer-lasting capabilities and we are striving to ensure that the tablets will be as encrypted and secure as possible with a dim screen to detract anyone from stealing what looks like a broken computer.”

Motion hope to see the results of successful testing leading to more trusts taking on the tablet PCs to use on-site with the aid of a wireless network.