Surfacing...

... after nearly drowning with my last (Fujitsu) tablet PC which has practically ground to a halt. Even with only one tab open in my Chrome browser, I click, and if I am lucky when I get back from lunch I might see the cursor. Months ago I could no longer use Practice Fusion except in Internet Explorer, and now a warning tells me the battery in my stylus will soon die.

My new Surface Pro running Windows 8 arrived less than a week ago, and yesterday I started using it during patient encounters. With almost everything in the cloud now, after painlessly connecting to WiFi I only installed a few apps: Chrome, antivirus, and CutePDF. I set up my old Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (I did not purchase either of the keyboards made for the Surface.) without referring to documentation, easily added printers and transferred a few templates.

My fourth tablet in the ten years I have used them, the Surface in some ways seems more like a smart phone. The touch screen really works, unlike the Fujitsu's, and I am so grateful for the return to the smoother Wacom battery-less stylus. I can use two I had left from my prior Motion tablets. The one that came with my Surface even has a pocket clip for us nerds.

Skype, now a Microsoft product, came preinstalled, knew who I was from startup, and worked better than my desktop for my first patient encounter.

I barely navigated the new "tile" interface without instructions, but I still have some questions. For example, my Chrome browser suddently shrank for no apparent reason, and only after watching a MS tutorial did I discover how to bring it back to full size. Gone are the familiar dash, boxes, and X in the upper right corner.

Need to document support for the new CPT codes makes note-taking during patient encounters even more critical, but the ability to scribble interferes with my connection with the patient so much less than use of a keyboard, and you cannot draw a genogram with a keyboard. I can easily hand the tablet to the patient to let them read a QR code with their phone.

The Surface weighs more than the Fujitsu, and the battery life may suffer by comparison, but I believe it will make it through a morning or afternoon without recharging, and the break-away magnetic power connector rids us of worry that a sudden move might wreck the device. The stylus attaches there as well.

I can breathe again.

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