Just two years ago, surveys showed that most doctors used three screens in their daily activities: a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop or desktop. They used smartphones to check email or look something up on an app, tablets for journal reading, CME, video, and desktops or laptops primarily for EHRs. Smartphones have typically been physician-facing, with tablets and laptops being used for patient education.
But that may be changing, thanks to a new device that’s a combination of a smartphone and a tablet computer — dubbed a “phablet.” These include Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, with a screen size of 5.5,” and the Nokia Lumia 1520, which runs on Windows and has a 6″ screen. (In comparison, a typical tablet screen ranges from 7″ to 10″.) This year, total phablet volume is predicted to top 318 million, surpassing the 233 million tablets forecast to ship in 2015.
In addition to fitting nicely into a lab coat pocket, phablets may offer doctors the opportunity to do away with multiple devices without sacrificing the elements and features they require. Here’s a look at three of the top phablets for doctors and what they have to offer.
Best “wow” factor: If you truly want to show patients you’re on the cutting edge of technology, the uniquely designed Galaxy Note Edge phablet should do the trick. A curved “second screen” on the edge of the phone provides quick access to frequently used apps, alerts, and device functionality with the swipe of a thumb, even when the cover is closed. If you were a Palm Pilot fan, you will appreciate the accompanying stylus, which allows for taking notes as well as signing emails and documents.
Best bargain: If the pricey Galaxy Note Edge is not in your budget, you can still get in on the phablet trend with ZTE’s Grand Max X Plus, a prepaid handset for $200 without a contract. The Android phone boasts a 6″ screen, 4G LTE connectivity, and 16GB of internal storage, which can be expanded. Text, voice, and video calling means you can communicate with patients however you, and they, prefer.
Best battery: The well-reviewed HTC One Max tablet has doctors covered with a massive battery that lasts for 7 hours and 27 minutes. Other features include a fingerprint scanner on the back of the phone for quick and secure unlocking. CNET gave this phablet big points for its strong 20-megapixel camera, large, glare-fighting screen, fast processor, and plenty of storage — important if you’re using it to show high-res patient-education videos.
For more reviews and recommendations, check out Medical Practice Insider’s “10 Phablets for any Physician” and this chart with a side-by-side comparison of 10 phablets.
As we mentioned, part of the phablet’s appeal for doctors is its smaller size, which makes it more portable. While you do sacrifice some screen size compared to an iPad or other larger tablet, the phablet’s screen is large enough for easy video viewing. In fact, the growth of phablets appears to be triggered by the surge of people watching online videos on their smartphones.
As we’ve discussed in previous posts, communication is becoming more digital, and more visual, every day. Video is increasingly becoming the preferred way to connect with consumers, increase online visibility, and educate and engage patients. Doctors who are using video in a variety of ways in their practices report measurable results.
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