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Date: Functions of Operating Systems

The Advantages and Pitfalls of Different Healthcare Operating Systems

Information technology is used in healthcare to improve on the delivery of services. The operating systems used are usually dependent on problems that need to be addressed such as the unification of fragmented systems or the reduction of human error. Healthcare operating systems usually need to be specialized, though simple ones may be used with a few adjustments made to fit any special requirements.

Microsoft Health Common User Interface (CUI) is an operating system specifically designed to support healthcare professionals. It provides a standard user interface for hospital application systems (Gartee, 2011).

. Although the ultimate beneficiaries of this system are healthcare workers, the people who often use it are healthcare application developers who use it as a guideline. The guidelines provided by this Microsoft operating system lead to the standardization of patient information, managing medications, information display, information accessibility, terminology use, and information output. This enhances the quality of care health worker deliver. The standardization enables workers to use the program at any location unlike other systems such as Mac X, which are limited in this aspect.

The Microsoft operation system also presents a summary of a patient’s information in a similar format in all locations at hospitals thus helping health professionals to easily access key details (Pogue, 2010). It can support applications from different vendors although it functions best with Microsoft windows applications. It also reduces errors made during data entry by condensing different entries for similar fields into one comprehensive entry. This, in turn, simplifies the data entry process for medical practitioners. The system also performs complicated functions like administering drugs making it easy to avoid medication errors.

When using this system, professionals should be aware that, though it is ideal in general hospital automation, it is weak when it comes to specific clinical areas. Another disadvantage is that Microsoft operating systems are the main target of malware designers. This may compromise critical hospital information (Stegwee, 2001).

Another operating system widely used in healthcare is the Mac X Operating system. It is more affordable than other systems like Microsoft. This aspect means that health institutions on tight budgets can access quality operating systems. The Mac X supports enormous volumes of data processing thus enabling work processes to be performed with out disruptions. HealthCare workers like this system due to its cohesive support for easy communication and wide availability. It is fast, stable and easy to use after the learning curve. Like Microsoft, the Mac X operating system can be used as a platform by a wide range of application systems.

The system has a high display quality function, which enables information access with out straining workers’ eyes. This operating platform also supports speech recognition. This aspect is helpful in the healthcare environment due to time constraints, which usually occur during emergencies. Doctors may record orders to nurses and save time. It will also reduce medication errors caused by writing down prescriptions.

The Mac X operating system has an advantage over the Microsoft operating system, in that it is not as vulnerable to file corruption caused by viruses. A key disadvantage is that most health workers are unfamiliar with this system. This is because of the relative market dominance of Microsoft. Using it may result in errors happening in hospitals when workers are still learning how to use it. The user interface is also not as standardized as Microsoft. This may result in confusion due to the many different interfaces.

Basic Concepts of Simple Operating Systems

An operating system provides an interface between users and software architecture. It links the hardware operations to the application software commands. An operating system consists of a hardware interface area, an application interface, a central processing unit scheduling area, a file system, and a storage area (Nutt, 2004). These are operated by code written on hardware bit sets. Operating systems fairly allocate resources such as memory between users hence providing a secure communication platform. Operating systems also provide protection to the application systems.

Major services provided by operating systems include controlling devices, supporting processes, scheduling processes, controlling the use of devices, and giving addresses to computer spaces. The operating system services are usually written by experienced programmers due to the need to ensure reliability. A good example of a device driver is the Linux operating system source code (Ricart, 1998). However, any programmer can write instructions that drive hardware devices like keyboards or external memory as these are relatively simpler. In Mac operating systems, instructions to processors are made in protected modes called kernels.

All operating systems evolve with time due to the constant technology changes in information technology. This makes them simplifies them for both application developers and end users besides increasing their efficiency. For example, the Microsoft Dos operating system was very user-unfriendly and inefficient. The subsequent Microsoft windows operating system series have revolutionized the workplace by simplifying tasks and providing economies of scale. Today, operating system manufacturers, have to support multiple application systems from different vendors unlike in the past. A Microsoft office applications developer can use Linux or Mac operating systems. This function is called interoperability and is usually useful in areas requiring specialized, technical knowledge like medicine.

Operating systems use a variety of input to perform various output tasks. When using Microsoft operating systems the users puts in commands by typing in the keyboard in a Microsoft application window document. The output is the printed document that results from the processing system. In a clinic setting, a Linux operating system user can input a patient imaging order with a mouse. This will result in a patient being x-rayed (input). The final operating system output in this case will be the X-ray photograph of the patient. Alternatively, a pharmacist with a Mac operating system can give a spoken prescription order to the computer, which will record and save the audio file. A nurse in another station can listen to the audio file (output) and give the prescription to patients.


Gartee, R. (2011). Health information technology and management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson

Nutt, G. (2004). Operating systems. Harlow: Pearson Addison Wesley

Pogue, D. (2010). Windows 7. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media

Ricart, M. A. (1998). The complete idiot’s guide to Linux. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing

Stegwel, R. A. (2001). Strategies for healthcare information systems. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing

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