There have been several tablet announcements this week. But, one of these announcements is vastly different than the others. It’s not an updated model or a smaller redesign of an existing product. It’s a brand new concept in tablet computing, and is available today. It’s the Microsoft Surface, and its innovative hardware and software have the potential to change the game in clinical trial management.
Have you ever tried to type anything on a tablet? Were you frustrated? Anybody trying to type on a touch based keyboard knows that the frustration of hitting the wrong keys and struggling to find those special characters. The Microsoft Surface tablet comes with a real keyboard, making entry of information much easier than a touch screen based keyboard. This is critical when entering precise clinical trial management data.
Existing tablets run watered down operating systems that rely on apps for functionality. The Surface offers the same powerful operating system used on your computer, only better – it’s Windows 8. By running a full OS, you can run the full suite of Microsoft Office products. You will be able to create presentations in Power Point, use Microsoft Word, and generate spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel. Microsoft Surface can also be connected to a company’s servers so it can be easily supported (and secured) just like any other computer on the network.
By offering the Surface hardware with a full keyboard and Windows, Microsoft is creating a real PC experience in a portable format. In addition, the Surface will also have its own ‘tablet mode’ with its own app store, giving you the ability to use the device as a tablet, and allowing you to play Angry Birds and Pop Music to your heart’s content.
Microsoft Surface Relation to Clinical Trial Management
Now, how does this relate to clinical trial management? Clinical sites want the mobility a tablet offers, but don’t want to have to learn new software. Clinical research associates want tablets, but sponsors don’t want to pay for them and provide a laptop. The Surface is a perfect solution for both scenarios.
As a clinical trial management technology vendor, BioClinica now has lots of options. We can offer our customers the ability to run all of our web-based products on a tablet using Internet Explorer which would emulate the full SharePoint and Microsoft Outlook experience. In addition, the industry adoption of Surface and other Windows tablets will open the door for development of apps such as those BioClinica demonstrated at DIA 2012. The biotech IT industry is anxiously awaiting such innovations. Gabor Fari, Director of Life Sciences Solutions for Microsoft, has been talking about clinical trial management on a tablet since February.
As for me, I can’t wait for my first opportunity to pass around the Microsoft Surface during customer meetings and spread the word! What are your thoughts on clinical trial management on Windows 8 and the Surface?