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Nextphase exhibited the software during Tablet PC launch events across the US last week. The ctSeries Tablet PC Edition allows healthcare professionals to collect clinical trial data electronically as they talk to patients.
The Nextphase software features drop-down menus for easy use with stylus data entry, database connectivity and the company's TrialView Management Dashboard for measuring and monitoring clinical data. It uses standard Internet browsers for study activity and a central Oracle database for storing trial information with all trial activity kept online.
"Everyone has been looking in the medical profession for how to break the cable that ties them down," said Nextphase chief executive officer Mike Currie. "This is now the first time that you can talk to them about detaching themselves from pen and paper."
Currie expected Tablet PCs to become popular in health care. The devices are smaller, lighter and easier to use than laptops. The graffiti writing systems on handhelds are unsuitable for fast note taking and have too little capacity and the screens are too small for medical market use.
IDC analyst Roger Kay agreed that healthcare is a good vertical market for Tablet PCs. Medical software designed using forms with drop-down menus and buttons for menu choices work well for inputting data with a stylus, he noted.
There are ergonomic issues to be overcome, not least of which is tiredness in the arm on which the Tablet PC rests when it is being held for use. But Kay believed this would not present a problem. "Doctors have walked around with clipboards for a long time, so this seems like a natural," he said.
The Tablet PC version is priced according to the clinical trial size and the protocol being used.