The smart phone has become a mainstay of medical professionals. From family practitioners to lab workers and medical specialists, the cell phone has become a trusted tool for much more than just making phone calls. Smart phones allow medical practitioners to connect to the internet and email in order to stay connected in an ever increasing connected world. Secondly, smart phones offer several medical applications for download that allow medical practitioners to look up valuable reference information, download and manipulate images through imaging tools and many other very useful functions that a medical professional needs on a day to day basis. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, smart phones are able to connect physicians and technicians to electronic medical records stored on centralized database servers within the hospital or medical clinic.
With the wide selection of cell phone devices available on the market today, it can sometimes be difficult to decide which smart phone device is the best for your situation. There is no single smart phone platform that is best for the medical community, but each device must be considered based on your own individual situation. The first consideration before even talking about platform is whether or not you have access to wifi in your work environment. If you primarily work in a hospital that has no cell phone access and no wifi access, you may want to consider the usefulness of a smart phone in your day to day activities. If your primary work environment does have access to a 3g or 4g connection but does not offer wifi, your most important consideration may be the cell phone provider itself. Heavy data usage without access to a wifi connection could mean a very expensive bill at the end of the month. Considering your provider options closely may mean that you have to go with a provider that may not offer the platform you want in order to get an unlimited data plan. The Windows Phone platform and the Apple iOS platforms are particularly limited in terms of cell phone provider availability.
While the Blackberry device was the de facto smart phone for most large corporations a few years ago, it has fallen out of favor recently. Part of the reason for this is that the security solution that is standard with all of its devices has become a bit of a limiting factor for many companies. This is primarily because Blackberry runs all of its data through its own Blackberry network. The other reason for the lack of adoption of Blackberry devices in recent years has been the lack of available medical apps on the market.
The new Windows Phone 7 platform has been a late comer to the current smart phone market. In terms of apps and market penetration, it lags far behind the Android and the Apple iOS. The lack of apps is probably the biggest problem currently, but Microsoft is counting on high app standards to release apps that are much more stable than those available through the Google Play store. The most serious consideration for this platform, however, is the tight integration to the Microsoft back office environment. If you need tight integration with .Net and SQL Server apps, this may be your best choice.
With the most applications and highest availability through cell providers, Android is a very popular choice. The down side to Android is the fact that not all the apps work on all of the devices. This has lead to a high volume of medical apps on the Google Play market, but not a lot of consistency in quality or performance.
Given the number of quality, stable apps in the Apple Store, and the popularity of the iPad as a kind of digital clipboard for the twenty first century doctor, the Apple iOS platform may be the best platform for the medical community. The two drawbacks the iOS platform is its limited availability in terms of cell providers, and its limited open source apps.