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For Healthcare, Windows Picks a Bad Time for a Facelift

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, June 5, 2012

One irony of the greatest success in private EHR implementation, at Kaiser Permanente, is that all those systems are running Windows XP, a long-obsolete version of Windows.

Extended support for Windows XP is due to conclude on April 8, 2014—less than two years away. I would bet that security patches for XP will continue to be provided for several years after that. Meanwhile, the automatic Windows Update service, whose familiar, unwanted reminders pop up everywhere from PowerPoint presentations to billboards, will be cajoling XP users (and Vista users, and Windows 7 users) to upgrade version components stat. As more and more healthcare providers turn their screens around so patients can follow along with their EMRs during consults, those pop-ups won't inspire confidence in healthcare's digital future.

Our healthcare systems are becoming so sensitive to technological considerations that Microsoft might be well advised to stage a formal clinical trial of Windows 8. The good news is, as with all clinical trials, years would be needed to complete to prove its safety and efficacy. By then, we'd almost be ready for it.


Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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2 comments on "For Healthcare, Windows Picks a Bad Time for a Facelift"


Shawn Huecker (6/6/2012 at 11:11 AM)
Putting a lid on innovation is rarely a prescription for success.

Richard (6/5/2012 at 3:27 PM)
As you point out in your article, there's never a "good" time to release a new version - and Windows certainly needs a new version to compete in the new touch-based tablet world of the future. HOWEVER, I'd like to point out that (in my opinion) most healthcare organizations won't be upgrading any time soon. In my 20 years of experience with IT and 7 years in Healthcare IT, I've noticed that only a handful of organizations stay on the cutting edge. The rest are cautiously watching and waiting to see how it goes. As you point out, Kaiser is still using WinXP! And there are major EMR vendors which have yet to formally support Windows 7 - this I know from first hand experience. I think we will see early adoption of Windows8 within the IT departments of healthcare organizations and with some of the more adventurous, but non-clinical, staff. But for now, at least for my organization, we will stay right where we are at - and wait and see. You give food for thought, but I don't think the sky is falling... yet. We still have a few years left with WindowsXP, so we can use the time to plan our exodus to Windows8. In the meantime we will watch as other organizations deploy Win8 and see how it works out for them.