Cisco eyes hospitals as key users for new business-focused tablet

Cisco is targeting hospitals with its new business-oriented tablet, Cius, following a year's worth of beta development at Palmora Pomerado Health System, San Diego, as well as firms in the education and communications industries. Company officials admit they're deliberately spurning iPad's consumer focus in favor of business customers.

That may explain the new tablet's hefty price tag of $750, guaranteed to make hospital execs blink. But its enterprise-grade security functions should make it a solid fit for healthcare, industry watchers say.

Palmora has deployed the Android 2.2 tablets to doctors, and even created an app for it -- Medical Information Anytime Anywhere (MIAA). The app allows physicians to access the health system's EMR, and to communicate with one another through both voice and video.

But it's the security functions that sold Orlando Portale, CIO for Palmora Pomerado Health, on the device. "We have Android devices already and all are consumer, but [they] don't run over the VPNs we need," Portale says. Cisco's "value-add" is its ability to lock down the devices, he tells bloggers at 4dik.Com.

The system also may tempt hospital CIOs with its app management function, AppHQ, 4dik.com bloggers say. Part app store, app development system and tablet manager, AppHQ sandboxes acceptable content for hospital employees, and gives IT administrators control over which applications users can download, something CIOs have long complained is difficult with iPads. One possible hangup:

Cisco only offers its most bare bones AppHQ module for free -- for any advanced management tasks, you'll have to pay an as-yet-undisclosed additional fee.

Other expenses: Users will have to buy Cisco's communications management software as well, and docking stations at $400 each, 4dik.com reveals.

To learn more:

- read the Wall Street Journal blog.
- check out Computerworld's analysis.
- see 4dik.com's blog.
- grab Cisco's press release.

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