Windows Phone 7 Not Ready for the Healthcare Enterprise

Recently, I was provided the opportunity to give a Samsung Windows Phone 7(WP7) a test drive. The phone itself felt great to hold and was easy to get setup for initial use. The WP7 user interface is as easy to use and intuitive as the iPhone. Once, I finished giving the consumer side of the phone a test it was time to put on my Healthcare IT hat to see if WP7 would work in the enterprise. For this review, the following areas were reviewed as they are the basic requirements for healthcare.

No Device Encryption
In the majority of cases, mobile healthcare devices are required to be encrypted in order to ensure protection of possible patient data on the device. WP7 lacks any sort of device level encryption and for that matter very few add-on tools to encrypt the phone. This lack of encryption also plagues Android devices but is being addressed by using tools like Good Technology (mailbox encryption client). However, at the time of this review there is no Good client for WP7.

No Citrix Support
Traditionally, a lot of healthcare enterprise applications are connected to via Citrix. Currently, the Receiver Client from Citrix is available for Android, BlackBerry and iOS devices but is not available for WP7. In doing some searching I was unable to determine if or when the Receiver client would be available for WP7.

No VPN Support
Although not required by all persons in healthcare there are instances where VPN is required for access to certain systems. Unlike the iPhone, WP7 does not have any native support or apps for VPN connectivity.

Lack of Enterprise Management
Until recently, there has been a absolutely no enterprise management tools to support WP7.  None of the major vendors that support iOS and Android today provide support for WP7.  The only enterprise support for WP7 is via Microsoft System Center 2012 which is still in beta.

Lack of Healthcare Apps
One of the major attractions of the iOS devices for physicians is the number of “medical” apps that are readily available for those devices.  In doing some some rudimentary searching of the WP7 marketplace it was immediately obvious that it lacked the number of medical apps that iPhone and now Android owners have come accustomed to.  In searching iTunes it was determined that there were over 2000 “medical” related apps as compared to less than 100 for WP7.  If there is more than 100 medical apps than it would be hard to determine that, as the searching in WP7 Marketplace returns results for more than just apps.

Summary
Although, WP7 is a very easy to use mobile platform there is still a long way for it to go before it is a viable alternative to Android and iOS.  For those that had an early iPhone, WP7 is essentially at that same point.  Microsoft has targeted the consumer sector with WP7 but have may forgotten it’s business customers that pay millions each year for their software solutions.  Hopefully, with future updates for WP7, Microsoft will add the necessary functionality needed for an enterprise environment and provide a viable alternative to Android and iOS.

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