All posts by cybernet

What is the Internet of Medical Things?

By now, most people are familiar with the internet of things. While these connected devices are certainly changing how we interact with the world, having a refrigerator that is connected to your video doorbell isn’t exactly life-changing. When it comes to the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), however, we are already seeing life-altering applications. The potential for growth is immense and will drastically change the way we think about healthcare.

Right now, the reality is that the healthcare industry has been slow adopt connected devices. A recent study by Frost & Sullivan found that only 60% of healthcare providers are utilizing IoMT devices, leaving a lot of room for growth and expansion. In fact, that same study found that there are roughly 4.5 billion IoMT devices that existed in 2015, but that number is expected to explode to between 20-30 billion devices by 2020.

Unlike the commercial, enterprise or industrial sectors, the healthcare sector needs to be extra careful when it comes to integrating the IoMT into everyday applications. HIPAA strictly regulates patient data safety, which is a challenge in and of itself. But more importantly, people’s lives are at stake with any new healthcare revolution.

What is an IoMT Device Anyway?

Odds are pretty high that you or a member of your family already uses one. Those fitness tracking bracelets are an example of an IoMT device. But they can go a lot farther than simply monitoring heart rate or how many steps a patient has walked. There are non-invasive devices that can track medication intake, blood glucose levels and even analyze food intake. Vital signs can be monitored and tracked 24/7 through a biometric stamp. The applications already exist, and when connected to a medical computer, can update a patient’s pertinent data in real time.

What’s even more impressive is that this data is 100% accurate. As important as trust is in the patient/doctor relationship, human nature dictates that might fudge a little about their diet or exercise. They might simply forget about missed dosages of their medication. An in-home nurse for an elderly patient can easily check up on everything using a connected medical grade tablet, which would allow them to formulate a more accurate treatment plan. Same for a doctor in a medical office, who can remotely track a patient’s progress on their medical computer and provide treatment updates through a web portal without the patient needing to come in for non-vital follow up visits.

 How Can this Change Healthcare?

Imagine in a few years when there are over 20 billion IoMT devices in regular use. Now imagine the volumes of data that those devices will produce. It is obviously too much information for humans to compile and analyze. That said, medical computers can use machine learning and advanced analytics to compile and compare data. This information can be used for predictive diagnosis or to identify patients who are at risk for future medical issues based on current behaviors or environmental factors.

Blockchain technology can allow this data to be shared anonymously, protecting patient data and allowing for even great pools of information to create even more accurate predictive models. The potential applications are virtually limitless and should improve preventative medicine, as well as help develop better patient outcomes in the event of an illness or injury.

Safety Concerns Must Be Addressed

When you begin talking about billions of connected devices transferring data, cybercrime becomes a legitimate concern. That’s a main reason why the healthcare sector has been a little slower to adopt the technology of the IoMT. As data encryption and firewall protection becomes more robust in these devices, the main threat will no longer be in the data transfer itself, but where the data resides.

 

Medical computers in hospitals are already a major target for cyber criminals. Unattended medical carts and computers in patient rooms are prime targets for physical security threats from data thieves. Often the most underestimated of cyber-attack. Commercial grade computers rarely have built-in security features necessary to protect against a physical attack. Computers looking to adopt and IoMT program should invest in medical grade computers that have built-in RFID readers, biometric fingerprint scanners and smart card readers. Two-factor authentication can ensure that only authorized users can log into an unattended device, preventing cyber theft of valuable patient data.

 

We barely scratched the surface of what the IoMT can currently do and where this technological revolution leading the healthcare industry. Inventory tracking, medical devices doing self-health checkups and providing their own maintenance alerts, and even increasing the speed with which information on new treatments and procedures is shared are a few more every day applications.

 

At Cybernet, we manufacture a full line of medical grade computers and tablets that are engineered to take link legacy equipment to emerging technologies and help healthcare practitioners focus on what’s most important – the patient. For more information, you can contact us here.

Medical Computers for Veterinarians

3 Ways Medical Computers Improve Veterinary Care

When we talk about medical grade computers, we typically think of human patients. But our four-legged friends and the veterinarians that take care of them can greatly benefit from medical grade technology as well. Whether it be treating a pet in the suburbs or livestock on the farm, veterinarians treat an incredible variety of animals with a wide range of ailments. Having the right technology can not only make their jobs easier but can ensure that animals are getting the proper treatment, resulting in better patient outcomes. Here are 3 ways that veterinarians can take advantage of medical grade computers.

Antimicrobial Housings Reduce the Spread of Infection

Nosocomial infections, or infections that are transmitted in a healthcare facility, are an extreme problem for healthcare facilities. The same is true in veterinary clinics. Dogs and cats can’t be taught to cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze, so veterinary clinics must do everything that they can to mitigate the risk of germs being spread from one animal to another.

One way that can be accomplished is through the use of medical grade computers. Specifically, computers that have antimicrobial properties baked directly into the housing. As vets and technicians treat an animal, they then record that information into a computer. Then they move onto the next animal, and so on. No matter how careful the staff is, germs, bacteria, and other harmful microbes can live on the surface of a commercial grade computer for days, increasing the chance of an infection spreading to other animals. Not only does an antimicrobial surface minimize that risk, but if that same medical grade pc is also IP65, it means it can be cleaned and disinfected without there being a risk of liquid getting into the computer and damaging internal components.

Telehealth Isn’t Just for Humans

Telehealth is revolutionizing the way that doctors are treating patients. Diagnosing shut-ins, consulting with specialists and even helping nurses administer proper wound care are just some of the benefits of telehealth. Telehealth is improving access to professional healthcare for millions upon millions of people.

Easy access to veterinarians isn’t so simple. It is estimated that there are over 1 million medical doctors currently practicing medicine in the United States. By contrast, there are only around 100 thousand veterinarians. Veterinarian offices typically serve a much larger area than a primary care, urgent care or hospitals do. If the “patient” is an exotic animal like a snake or a bird, there might not be a veterinarian for hundreds of miles that specializes in treating that type of animal.

Telehealth is the obvious answer. Pet owners or farmers can communicate with their vet remotely to get an immediate consultation on cuts, bites and other common injuries that animals suffer to determine if an office visit is necessary. Vets can also reach out to specialist vets to consult on exotic animal cases, helping to reduce travel time for animals that can put them under undue stress.

ID Tagging and Quarantining Livestock

You’ve probably heard about the Internet of Things (IoT) but have you heard about the Internet of Cows? It’s a tongue in cheek reference to the growing trend of farms and ranches using RFID tags to track and collect data on livestock. The use of RFID technology is revolutionizing farming, including tracking the health of the animals.

When talking about thousands of animals on one ranch, being able to use a rugged medical tablet to scan an RFID tag and bring up that specific animal’s medical history, weight, and other pertinent data. In the event of a disease outbreak, ranchers can scan the sick animal and see what trough an animal fed from, which animals have also fed from the same trough, where they sleep and a host of other information that can allow for a quick quarantine of potentially infected animals to monitor and prevent any further spread of illness.

RFID tagging is also extremely common in domestic animals. Pets are often implanted with RFID chips about the size of a grain of rice that store information like the owner’s name, address, and phone number. In the event that a lost animal turns up at a shelter or vet office, a medical tablet with built-in RFID can be used to quickly scan for an RFID chip so the owner can be immediately contacted.

There are so many ways that medical grade computers and tablets can help to improve the efficiency and safety of veterinary medicine. For more information on the types of features that Cybernet can offer contact us here.

3 Ways the Right Computer Prepares You for Disaster Recovery

It has been estimated that Hurricane Florence will cause as much as $50 billion in damage to the Carolinas. While most people think of damaged homes, cars and other property, a large percentage of those costs can be attributed to economic loss. Data loss, in particular, is extremely costly to businesses as well as lost productivity.

It doesn’t take a hurricane level storm to have a significant impact on businesses. Minor earthquakes, power outages, and other events can all pose a threat to businesses that don’t have the right IT infrastructure in place. Commercial grade computers are often the most vulnerable in these types of situations. And even if a company leverages the cloud, if individual workstations are compromised, data and productivity are lost. Here are 3 ways the right computer can help mitigate that risk.

Industrial Grade Components in Enterprise PCs

While earthquakes can be frightening while they are happening, most don’t cause major structural damage to buildings and roads that would cause a business to shut down for an extensive period of time. But even a minor earthquake can be devastating to computer equipment. If a computer is on a desk, the vibrations might be enough to cause the unit to fall to the ground, or the shaking could be enough to damage internal components like the hard drive, rendering the computer useless.

Enterprise PCs that are built with industrial components and SSD drives are immune to this type of damage from anything other than the most severe earthquakes. These devices are designed to be shock proof and drop proof. Finding an all-in-one computer that is VESA compatible means that it can be securely mounted to a wall or workstation, preventing any potential damage from a unit falling as well. When it’s time to get back to work, there’s no data loss or no need to replace or repair damaged equipment.

IP65 Protects Against Water Damage

When it comes to IT hardware, water kills. There are very few things that can turn a monitor or a tower into an expensive paperweight faster than water damage. It doesn’t take much to trigger a building’s sprinkler system. A small fire in another part of your building or an earthquake could both set off the sprinklers. A glitch in the infrastructure that controls the sprinklers or even a prankster can cause irreparable damage by setting off a false alarm.

Whether you work in a manufacturing facility or an office building, investing in an industrial panel pc or an all-in-one computer that is IP65 rated can end up saving you considerable time and money in the event your hardware gets a brief shower. IP65 is an international standard that determines whether or not a piece of equipment is resistant to water and dust ingress. The standards for the amount of water a computer must be able to withstand to achieve this rating is typically much higher than what an average sprinkler system will emit. You can watch this video on IP65 if you want more information.

The Importance of a UPS

No, we’re not talking about the guys in brown trucks. A UPS, or Uninterrupted Power Supply, is a feature not usually found in a commercial grade PC. While a lot of companies might have a UPS for their internal server, it is rare to see individual workstations connected to a central UPS. And to install one powerful enough to keep all of the workstations in a business operational in the event of a power outage can cost several thousands of dollars.

Something as benign as a car accident that damages a transformer down the block from you can take out the power to your building for several hours. When that happens, all productivity is lost, as well as any data that wasn’t saved prior to the power going out. Unless of course, you have invested in computers that have their own internal UPS. This is an important feature that an IT manager should be looking for. An internal UPS can provide power for several hours, giving employees time to save their work and shut down their systems properly. In some cases, the UPS might be enough to keep productivity going until the power is restored.

It is impossible to prevent certain events from happening. And it is likely that there will always be some negative impact on your operations when they do occur. But there are steps that a business can take to minimize their risk and exposure. One of those steps is investing in the right computers that are designed to withstand harsh environments and outside factors that might destroy a commercial-grade PC. Cybernet designs and manufactures a full line of medical grade PCs, Industrial computers, and enterprise grade computers that are built with exactly these types of scenarios in mind. For more information, you can contact us here.

Improve Interoperability with the Right Medical Computers

Every organization consists of different departments working in sync together to move forward. This is doubly true with healthcare organizations such as hospitals, which measure success in lives saved and patients healed rather than profit and loss. A given hospital’s medical-grade computers need to work in conjunction with the organization’s entire network, which can include not just other computers but legacy medical devices integral to patient care. Most administrators can tell you what a challenge that is.

Interoperability – the ability of medical PCs to work harmoniously across a network with each other – can streamline the healthcare process, make paperwork easier and ensure that timely data gets into the right hands at the right time. The kind of medical computer your organization uses can make a huge difference on that front, turning what could be a patchwork of different units and operating systems into a smoothly running whole.

Go in Stages

Most healthcare organizations are quite large and require numerous medical computers in order to function. When the time comes to replace them, it usually takes place in stages. Annual budgets don’t normally allow for more than a percentage of a given organization’s systems to be replaced at any one time, and upgrades are usually staggered to minimize the impact of a big change.

This can make interoperability very difficult, with different makes and models of medical PCs utilizing different operating systems, all trying to function as part of the same network. A recent report by Healthcare Informatics states that an average of 15 percent of all hospital computer systems run on outdated operating systems. That can cause huge interoperability problems. Outdated systems may struggle with electronic medical records (EMR), for instance, and require elaborate workarounds in order to function.

With that in mind, it makes sense to look for medical computers with a long life cycle: ideally 3-5 years. That ensures that the computers you purchase a few years ago will still operate the same way the computers you’re preparing to install this year, which enhances their interoperability and allows EMRs and other vital software to function smoothly across your entire network.  That permits your organization to upgrade computers more gradually without having to integrate different hardware and software.

Integrate at the Point of Care

Interoperability functions most effectively when it is integrated at the point of care: where doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals directly treat the patients. The ability to document the patients’ treatment as it is delivered – including vital signs, medication and overall progress of healing – can drastically reduce the frequency of errors and ensure that all of the data is accurate.

Furthermore, information integrated into the system at point-of-care allows for much faster response times, allowing specialists and other medical personnel to evaluate the quality of treatment and plan for further care. In the event of a problem – say, a drop in the patient’s blood pressure – then those plans can be altered or revised to reflect the current data.

For example, Acute Care Testing cites a report on emergency services that saw a 2.5% mortality rate for patients boarded less than two hours slowly climb to a 4.5% mortality rate for patients boarded for 12 hours or longer. Compare that information to a study by the U.S. Department of Health, which found that point-of-care treatment — properly cataloged and integrated into an existing network — provides actionable data an average of 46 minutes sooner than lab tests or other factors. Smooth integration of such data allows care to be received that much sooner and reduces the frequency of mortality rates among patients. It can quite literally save lives.

Medical PCs, particularly mobile PCs like medical cart computers, can further facilitate this by using barcode scanners and radio frequency IDs (RFID) to scan and log patient data instantly from wristband IDs, medication containers and the like. They can gather needed data with just a swipe, then log the information and allow hospital staff to act on it when time is of the essence.

Don’t Forget Legacy Devices

Legacy devices – outdated technology that still sees regular use – can be one of the biggest challenges to interoperability. Such devices may not be compatible with modern software, and yet the data they provide can be invaluable to effective care. The American Hospital Association estimates that most medical organizations can only afford to replace 10% of their legacy devices per year, meaning that methods must be found to integrate functioning devices to the larger network as a matter of simple financial necessity.

Medical computers can address this by providing an access point for the legacy device. Legacy ports such as RS-232 serial ports allow you to connect the computer to the legacy device, which not only improves its functionality but can better integrate the information it delivers into the network’s larger database. Not only does that enhance the functionality of legacy devices, but it can cut down on the time required to log the data they provide: ensuring that the medical organization can maximize their utility for as long as possible.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers a variety of medical-grade PCs that can help you address the challenges of interoperability. Call on us today to discuss your options!

The Right Computer Can Reduce the Impact of a Food Recall

Product recalls are part and parcel of business, but they are of particular importance when it comes to food. Tainted food presents an active health risk in ways that other products don’t, and because most food is both perishable and vulnerable to toxins, a recall needs to be enacted swiftly and efficiently. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues about 8,000 recalls on food products every year. Any company that works in the food industry needs to be prepared for that eventuality.

The right industrial computers can play a role in minimizing the impact of a food recall: ensuring that the affected product is identified and returned as swiftly as possible while minimizing the impact on other aspects of your business. Knowing what kind of features a given industrial PC should have in such circumstances – and acting on that information in anticipation of a recall instead of reacting after a recall has been ordered – can make a huge difference in how swiftly your business can recover.

Tracking and Identifying the Recalled Product

The U.S. government utilizes Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles to identify the affected food product and the source of the contamination. BIN numbers and lot numbers are a key part of this process: tracking specific parcels of food as they move from the farm to the grocery store.

Because it is the government standard, it is vital that a food manufacturer is able to present highly traceable data to minimize how much product is recalled. An industrial tablet with a barcode scanner can scan produce as it is picked from the field, assigning the date picked, the field the food came from and even the time of day the food began its journey from farm to table. RFID readers can track pallets from the warehouse to the shipping and receiving dock. And all of this data can be automatically logged into an ERP system. That level of traceability will ensure that any financial damage from a food recall is minimized.

Recording Your Process

Following a recall, the FDA conducts an audit covering all aspects of production in order to identify the cause of the recall and ensure that corrective measures have been taken. They also check to see if the cause of the recall might affect other food products, and if so, whether it should be extended to include those products. The audit will include a list of the different accounts to be audited, the details on your recall strategy, key personnel to be interviewed, and the specific methods by which the audit will be conducted. The more transparency your process has and the more reliable information you can provide the auditors, the faster the process will go and the more quickly you can move forward.

A digitally recorded process on your company’s computer network can help speed up those audits and get you back in business faster. That means copious records – dated to help establish a timeline – as well as details on the means by which the recall was undertaken. That can mean a great deal of data to sift through, as well as a consolidated record-keeping system and a means of monitoring all aspects of production. Information needs to be received from multiple sources – the course of the food, transportation, packaging facilities, and storage, among others – and yet be easily integrated and accessible with a minimum of fuss.

As a result, any industrial computer systems your operation uses should emphasize interoperability and shared data to better ensure comprehensive transparency. Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, makes an excellent means of keeping all the needed information accessible. The software can integrate data across multiple locations, and provide superior analysis to mine actionable information from it. So instead of manually examining the data and looking for the pertinent components – a process that can waste hundreds of hours – you can use the ERP software to quickly pinpoint the key details that triggered the food recall and take appropriate action. For example, a recent case study from STIR Food used ERP software to conduct a number of mock food recalls. The software accounted for 100% of the affected product within 13 minutes of completing the task.

That, in turn, requires systems with high processing power in order to parse the data quickly. In addition, look for systems with multiple LAN connection ports that allow all of the computers in your network to interface quickly and easily on an intranet. Such efficiency can help resolve an FDA audit quickly and get your operation back up to speed.

Quality Control

Once the recall is completed, the ideal scenario is to prevent similar recalls from ever happening again. Studies show that automated processes that monitor all stages of production can spot potential problems and call for corrective measures before they become a crisis. The Internet of Things – sensor-enabled technology that can record information from any type of object – can play a huge role in this. The expansion of the IoT has increased by leaps and bounds in recent years. Business Insider projects that there will be 34 billion connected devices in the world by 2020.

The data generated by such a network can allow for automated processes at all stages of the food production chain, which in turn can aid your organization in anticipating and correcting problems before they result in a food recall. For example, IoT sensors in refrigeration trucks can monitor the temperature to ensure that it will keep any food properly chilled until it reaches its destination. Sensors can be used to monitor things like pH levels during food processing, sending alerts in the event of abnormal tests which might be the result of a contaminant in the manufacturing process.

Industrial panel PCs with human machine interface features (HMI) allow employees to receive alerts and swiftly move to halt production until a given issue can be fixed. Computer systems with such features allow the benefits of IoT to be applied more readily, and quality control to rise as a result.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers an array of business and industrial computers that can help expedite and prevent the impact of a food recall. Contact us today to hear more!

Powered vs. Non-Powered Medical Carts: Which Is Right for You?

Medical carts, or workstations on wheels, have become a staple tool for hospitals and other health care facilities. They allow nurses and health care practitioners to wheel medical grade computers to different locations in the hospital, as well as peripheral devices, instruments and medication, among other items. They can save a lot of time and effort for your staff, and come in a variety of options to address the specific needs of individual medical organizations.

Medical carts are further divided into two basic categories: powered carts, which provide their own power source for computers and other peripherals via an integrated battery; and non-powered carts, which offer no battery and require the computers and other components they carry to find other power sources. Both options provide benefits and drawbacks for your staff. If you’re thinking of purchasing a new cart or carts for your organization, it pays to evaluate the pros and cons very carefully. We’ve provided a quick breakdown of the most pertinent differences between powered and non-powered carts below.

Weight

Any mobile cart, whether powered or non-powered, must feature an ergonomic design that makes it easy to move and work with without risking repetitive stress disorders and similar injuries. Weight plays a huge role in that process. A heavy workstation-on-wheels can take a toll on those who use it; in the worst cases, they can cause active injury, and even those that can be maneuvered readily carry the risk of chronic pain to hospital staff.

A recent study from Biomedical Journal and Scientific and Technical Research reported an increase in lower back pain for nurses on the job: rising from 16.8% before they began nursing up to a staggering 85% afterwards. Heavy lifting was cited as a significant factor in such injuries in 78.2% of cases. Specifics vary widely by workload, the physical size and strength of the affected staff members, and factors related to the physical location (such as needing to push weight up a ramp or incline), but clearly the less physical strain a given medical staff has to deal with, the better.

Some of that can be addressed by the construction of any workstation on wheels your staff uses: look for features like adjustable heights, trays that can pan and tilt, and rotating wheels with low rolling resistance. However, when it comes to sheer weight, non-powered carts hold a clear advantage over their powered cohorts. Without the weight of a battery they are easier to move, present a smaller footprint (i.e., their length and width are narrower which requires less floor space), and place less strain on the joints and muscles of your staff. This is of particular importance if the workplace features tight quarters, as many ORs and patient rooms do.

Power Supply

Powered hospital carts are used to run the computers connected to them via batteries integrated into the cart. Those batteries have a finite amount of power, and must be periodically recharged if they’re going to do their jobs. This can be difficult in hospital settings and similar facilities, which often have to run 24/7 in order to treat their patients. A powered cart can take anywhere from 2-6 hours to recharge. If you have to recharge the cart two times a day that becomes an instant liability: the cart takes up space without its computer delivering any utility in exchange. This can have a serious impact on workplace efficiency. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, equipment shortages caused by recharging or otherwise disabled computers on wheels wastes as much as 10% of a hospital staff’s work day: forcing them to work longer hours.

Non-powered carts rely on computers with hot-swap batteries, which eliminates the need to connect them to the battery from a powered cart. (Hot swapping refers to a battery that can be safely removed and replaced with a fresh battery without a loss of power to the computer. That allows for 24/7 use without spending any time recharging.) The question then just comes down to selection. Obviously with a powered cart, you have greater flexibility with regard to the computer you can mount on it. A non-powered cart limits you to just computers with hot swap batteries.

Longer Run Times

Simply put, it is important to understand how long your computer cart will run before the battery needs to be charged. That could mean the battery that powers the cart itself on a powered cart, or the hot swap batteries that power the computer on a non-powered cart. Run time is important for a number of different reasons. As we mentioned before, having to plug a cart into a power outlet to charge can lead to a lot of downtime, and wasted hours for staff. In this sense using a medical cart computer with hot swap batteries makes more sense. A solution like this provides for 24/7 run time as depleted batteries can be swapped out for fully charged ones throughout the day. Even if a facility chose to plug in a hot swap battery computer to recharge, instead of using spare batteries, the smaller batteries in a computer would return to full capacity much more quickly than a large cart battery, leading to less downtime.

The importance of run time goes beyond mitigating downtime. As with all Lithium Ion batteries, they will lose their ability to hold a full charge over time. This typically happens after about 300 cycles. The more often you have to recharge the battery, the quicker the battery start to deplete. The longer the run time of your power supply, the longer you can go without needing to purchase a replacement battery. Computers with hot swap batteries tend to have much longer run times than a cart battery, and are also much cheaper to replace.

Charging Peripherals

Carts can also be used to carry peripheral devices throughout the care facility. In many cases, such peripherals may require power of their own. Barcode scanners and printers are two very common devices that are mounted on medical carts. One advantage a powered cart has is the ability to power these types of devices. However, if you have a hot swap medical computer that can also power a peripheral device, then the advantage is neutralized. That is a question that needs to be asked when researching a medical cart solution.

Utility is the name of the game when it comes to workstations on wheels. Every facility and end user has a different set of requirements that must be met and the balance between cost and functionality must be weighed. That tipping point will be different for everyone. For more information on powered vs. non-powered carts and the computers that would best pair with them you can contact us here.

 

 

The Benefit of Medical Tablets to Wound Care

When it comes to healthcare, few conditions need to be addressed with more urgency than wounds and similar injuries. Treating wounds promptly can reduce scarring, lower the risk of infection and speed the healing process. The sooner medical personnel can examine and treat a wound, the better. That often means giving tools to healthcare providers in the field, such as emergency medical technicians and firefighters, as well as wound care specialists and similar staff members at a hospital or care ward. Medical tablets make an excellent means of doing so: utilizing cutting-edge technology to address wound care with the swiftness and efficiency required for a speedy recovery. How? We’ve listed four brief ways below.

Medical Tablets Provide Telehealth Solutions

Telehealth is the means of connecting healthcare providers to their patients through technology, which can include anything from examining patients remotely to consulting experts who might not be on site. This plays an especially large role in wound care, where time is of the essence. The National Institute of Health cites a study on telehealth practices and wound care from CICAT in France, showing that telehealth practices reduced the number of hospitalizations resulting from wound care by 72%, and reduced the number of ambulance transfers by 56%. That translates not only to improved care but a significant reduction in time and resources that can be used to treat other patients.

A medical tablet plays a huge role in that process. With it, EMTs and other personnel can take pictures of the injury en route and forward it electronically to the hospital. That allows them to prepare for the patient’s arrival, as well as providing an early diagnosis to help the EMTs provide more effective immediate care. Even better, physicians at the hospital can provide a diagnosis via the tablet, and determine whether the patient needs to come to the hospital or if treatment can be effectively implemented on site.

The effects can be felt in improved response times and more patients served. For example, a 2017 study cited by the Journal of Emergency Services — involving first-responders in Houston — reported medical technicians returned to work 44 minutes faster than they would have without telehealth options: reducing wasted time without a loss of quality care.

Specialty Access Improves Effectiveness

Wounds often fall under the purveyance of a Wound, Ostomy and Continence (WOC) nurse, specially trained to deal with such injuries. Ameritech estimates that 4% of all hospital cases involve wound treatment of some kind, which means WOC nurse skills are in high demand. But that can stretch WOC nurses’ availability thin – especially when the hospital becomes busy – and with wound care, timely treatment can make a huge difference.

Hospital tablet PCs can help such specialists use their time more effectively. They permit WOC nurses and others to receive images of the injury and other data that they can use to make a swift diagnosis, then pass the needed treatment information back to the point of care without wasting time. Medical tablets can further assist in such efforts by allowing for one-handed operation – giving the attending caregiver a free hand to measure the length of the wound and provide proper scale for the WOC nurse to better make a diagnosis.

Interconnection Makes a Difference

A tablet connected to a larger computer network has access to the data in that network, allowing users to check information that they might not otherwise be able to. This has a bearing on wound care, both in terms of immediate treatment and on more general practices. For example, in Canada, the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (TC CCAC) reported significant improvement in wound care through the use of data analytics and application. The software  allowed medical tablets to record real-time data, then track the length and rate of the healing process. That resulted in a reduction in patient readmission for wound care — down from 31% to a mere 7% –as well as a significant improvement in the length of healing.

The best medical tablet PCs allow swift and easy access to such data directly at the point of care, whether it be in a hospital setting or in the field. That, in turn, allows medical personnel to apply the data to their particular patient, ensuring more effective treatment faster.

Tablets with Antimicrobial Components Provide Safeguards

Sterility and hygiene are serious concerns for any kind of medical treatment, but they particularly important when it comes to wounds. Open wounds are exceedingly vulnerable to infection (which can come from almost anywhere), and even wounds from sterilized environments such as surgery incisions develop infections some 1-to-3 percent of the time, according to studies from Johns Hopkins.

That makes sterility very important for any devices operating in close proximity to any wound. Tablets are of especial concern since they are often passed from technician to technician, and used to treat numerous patients for a wide variety of issues. That, in turn, can increase the threat of germs and infection when treating any kind of wound.

That’s part of why medical-grade tablets are preferable to commercial-grade tablets when it comes to point-of-care for wounds. More specifically, tablets with an antimicrobial surface will keep germs from being transmitted from one patient to another, reducing the risk when used to treat an open or infected wound. In addition, tablets protected from liquid ingress, such as those with an IP65 rating, can be safely cleaned with liquid disinfectant and kept hygienic much more easily.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers a series of  medical tablet PCs for a variety of uses, including point-of-care and EMT services. Contact us today to discuss your options!

Industrial Panel PCs and the Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things” has become the hottest buzzword in tech circles. It refers to the practice of physical items outfitted with electronics that allow them to connect to the internet and exchange data with other devices. It can include anything from dishwashers to bicycles, and its effects are in the process of transforming the world..

Nowhere is this more acutely felt than in heavy industry, where warehouses and factory floors are undergoing a sea change thanks to IoT. Industrial computers – and particularly industrial panel PCs – allow IoT to flourish in such environments. In the process, they can streamline the production process, ensure more efficient shipping, and otherwise help a given company improve the bottom line. How do such systems facilitate the IoT and what kinds of qualities should you look for in them if you wish to make use of them in an IoT environment? We cite a few examples below.

Improving Efficiency Becomes Easy with HMI

Automated machinery and assembly-line equipment often use industrial computers to allow human workers to control them via human machine interface (HMI). IoT integration can accentuate that process and permit humans to monitor automated systems much more effectively.

For example, sensors connected to components on an automobile assembly line (or the automated machinery tasked with assembling the cars) can detect elevated temperature, vibrations and similar structural problems that may result in a defective component. It can also detect recurring trends along those lines, suggesting a batch of components with common structural problems or perhaps an issue earlier in the assembly process creating such problems. That, in turn, alerts human operators to the problem and allows them to correct the problem before it causes more damage.

An industrial panel PC allows human monitors to quickly spot the issue through HMI: pinpointing the spot on the line where the problem is occurring and allowing the process to be shut down in order to correct it. That saves untold costs by stopping the problem early, as well as helping to indicate which (if any) assembled products may be affected by the issue.

Predictive Maintenance Saves Time and Money

When it comes to assembly lines and similar industrial apparatus, little problems can turn into big headaches very quickly. A single faulty machine can grind production to a halt while it gets repaired: costing the company huge amounts in lost productivity. Regular maintenance can identify trouble before it starts, but that can take a great deal of man hours, and often involves shutting production down regardless.

IoT can change that equation. The network of sensors that comprise IoT provides an ocean of data that can be analyzed and assessed. Machines can self report scheduled maintenance to operators, making sure that routine checks aren’t overlooked, which can lead to bigger issues down the road. When an IoT machine does breakdown, they can send information that identifies the exact nature of the problem, preventing a small fix from turning into a long and expensive repair issue that can arise from misdiagnosing a problem.

RFID Readers Improve Automation in Warehouses

IoT technology can also be used in warehouses and storerooms as a means facilitating automated management. For example, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) can sort and organize products for distribution. Sensors are placed along the production like and radio frequency ID tags (RFID) can identify the specific SKU of each box. That, in turn, allows them to be sorted accurately and stacked in the right section.

Controllers can use an industrial touchscreen PC with an RFID reader to keep track of the process, and to make adjustments or changes as needed. For instance, if a new product comes into the warehouse, the SKU for that product can be entered into the system and a storage spot assigned to it. The AS/RS will then automatically adjust the process to ensure that the new product ends up where it’s supposed to go. Not only does this significantly streamline the organization process, but it can help workers quickly identify the location of a given product that might otherwise get lost in the rows and stacks of storage.

Processing Power Matters

Considering the number of interconnected devices and the volume of data created by IoT, any system needs to be able to keep up. Every sensor and data reader in a given network produces data, and that data needs to be processed and analyzed, often in real time. That means higher processing power, lower energy use, and the ability to integrate numerous different data stream seamlessly. Indeed, recent articles by Deloitte Consulting and SAS cite the rise of more powerful processing abilities as one of the chief factors enabling IoT technology.

Any kind of industrial panel PC employed for us in an IoT  environment needs high processing power to accommodate the large amounts of data involved. It also should be upgradable, if possible: allowing you to expand its power by upgrading CPUs and RAM as required. That lets you further expand your use of IoT tech while still relying on the same computer to monitor and control the information you receive.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing produces a line of panel PCs designed to work with the Internet of Things. Contact us today to discuss your options!

RFID tablet medical tablet

5 Ways Mobile Health Clinics Benefit from Medical-Grade Tablets

When most people think of medical care, they think of traditional care facilities such as hospitals and medical clinics. But times are changing, and the advent of new technology has freed healthcare facilities to move… literally. Mobile healthcare clinics are becoming increasingly common: able to travel to patients in rural locales or similar distant spots without surrendering the efficiency and accuracy of quality medical care. According to a recent article by Reuters, mobile healthcare accounted for over $23 billion in revenue in 2017, and that number only looks to expand in the future.

Medical-grade computers, especially tablets, can play a huge role in helping mobile health clinics more effectively treat their patients. As mHealth practices become increasingly prevalent and healthcare facilities weigh their options, it pays to understand what kinds of benefits one can derive from the right computer system. Here are a few benefits that medical-grade tablets can provide to mobile health clinics.

They’re Better Protected from Drops

Mobile health operations can’t always depend on the carefully controlled conditions one finds in a hospital or similar clinic. For example, a mobile tablet needs to be tougher and more durable than a commercial grade tablet. Mobile health clinics are vulnerable to many more bumps and jolts than stationary workspaces, and if an out-of-the-box tablet is dropped or jostled, it could suffer a great deal of damage. That in turn could severely affect the clinic’s ability to provide viable care by eliminating access to the computer’s data and analysis abilities. Mobile clinics lend themselves to more people handling the tablet as well. Patient registration, questionnaires or even accessing patient portals means a device might be handled by dozens of people per day. And patients aren’t always as careful with a device that isn’t theirs.

A rugged medical tablet should be tough enough to handle such drops. Ideally, it should be in compliance with military-grade specifications, allowing it to be dropped safely and endure similar bumps and jolts without damage. That ensures you’ll be able to use the tablet as needed and prevents the odd pothole or fumbling hands from turning a key part of your mobile clinic’s operation into an expensive paperweight.

Stop Germs from Spreading When You Travel

The spread of germs and illness from one patient to another is a serious concern for any healthcare organization. Hospitals and stationary clinics go to great lengths to curtail the spread of nosocomial pathogens (illnesses incurred directly from exposure at a hospital or clinic). That becomes much more difficult in a mobile health setting. The simple act of moving from place to place exposes staff members and patients alike to germs and similar illnesses, and mobile clinic staff who aren’t careful can inadvertently spread such contamination as they move from place to place.

This is especially problematic with mobile devices used in such locations. For example, studies from the National Institute of Health indicated that 80% of cell phones used by medical staff members carried some kind of bacterial pathogen on the surface. Tablets carry the same risks, since they are handled on a regular basis by hospital staff who spend a great deal of time in touch with contagious patients.

Medical tablet PCs can provide protection on that front. Specifically, tablets with an antimicrobial coating – or even better, antimicrobial properties in the resin of the case itself – can help repel germs and keep them from spreading from patient to patient as the mobile clinic goes about its rounds. In addition, tablets that are IP65 certified are protected against liquid or dust ingress, which means you can clean them with liquid disinfectant without compromising their operational capacity.

Telehealth Applications Bring Doctors Closer to Distant Patients

One of the central purposes of mobile clinics is to bring healthcare to people who might not be able to readily reach a stationary hospital. Whether it’s because they’re in a rural location far away from an established clinic, they lack the resources to travel there, or they’re sufficiently ill that reaching a hospital or similar location constitutes an undue burden on their health, a mobile clinic provides a ready answer by bringing equipment and personnel to them instead of the other way around.

Telehealth practices allow patients and doctors to connect from vast distances and provide efficient care via video teleconferencing and similar practices. For instance, the world’s first “virtual hospital” – Mercy Virtual Care Center in St. Louis – oversees care for almost 4,000 people living at home with chronic conditions. They, in turn, are connected to over 40 hospitals and 800 physicians in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, who can reach those distant patients via WiFi connections.

Medical grade tablets, with their light weight and easy portability, make an ideal way to establish such connections: allowing a patient to receive examinations, diagnoses, medical prescriptions and the like from doctors throughout an entire network of hospitals… all without leaving their bedrooms.

RFID and Barcode Scanners Streamline Data Management

Data management remains a serious concern for any medical organization, and such concerns loom all the larger in a mobile clinic. Bloodmobiles, for example, need to catalogue and keep track of the blood they collect, which involves a great deal of paperwork to make sure the samples are accurately catalogued.

Integrating such details into an electronic medical record (EMR) can be a painstaking and at times exhausting process. A recent New York Times articles stated that physicians can spend as much as half of their time on EMRs instead of catering for patients, which leads to a greater frequency of mistakes and increased burnout. Those factors are enhanced for mobile healthcare, which needs to ensure the data they gather is accurate and can be integrated into the EMRs of their entire network.

A tablet equipped with barcode scanners, radio frequency ID (RFID) tags, and similar features, can streamline the process of data management considerably.  To take the above example, a barcode scanner linked to a medical tablet can quickly and accurately enter the blood type, date and time of collection, and donor data simply by reading the barcode on the blood sample itself. That, in turn, can be relayed instantly back to the hospital or stationary clinic, allowing its seamless integration into the network’s EMRs. Hospital staff can then make use of the data immediately – without having to wait for the mobile clinic to “return to base” – and personnel are spared the effort of cataloging the data by hand.

Hot Swap Batteries Provide Constant Power

Anyone who’s owned a cell phone – which is pretty much everyone at this point – knows the feeling of helplessness when their device runs out of power. Mobile clinics can experience a similar drain on their equipment, which can be a considerable problem with limited electrical outlets and finite power. A mobile tablet won’t be very useful if it needs to be plugged in to retain power, and dealing with low battery levels can distract staff members from the patient care they should be engaged in.

A tablet with “hot swap” batteries can help solve this problem. Such units can swap batteries out while the power is turned on: replacing them with fresh units from a recharging station without forcing you to shut off the tablet. That, in turn, allows it to continue operating 24/7, ensuring that staff members can use it whenever and wherever it’s needed without having to plug it in beforehand.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing carries a line of medical-grade tablet PCs that address the concerns of a mobile clinic. If your organization is invested in mobile medical services, contact us today to discuss your options!

Patient Infotainment trends

4 Features to Look for in Bedside Medical Computers

No one likes to think about a stay in the hospital, and yet it’s sometimes necessary in order to properly treat a given medical condition. According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, approximately 36.5 million Americans receive hospital care every year, with an average time spent of 4.5 days apiece. Bedside care remains an important part of overall patient care at medical institutions of all varieties.

Thanks to advances in computer technology, medical grade computers can now be permanently affixed to bedside stations. That, in turn, can improve the patient’s hospital experience greatly, as well as making it easier for doctors and other care providers to do their jobs. There are several important features that a hospital administration should look for in such computers, in order to make the best use of their location at the patient’s bedside and the attendant healthcare benefits that can bring. We’ve included a list of 4 of them below.

Antimicrobial Features Are a Big Concern

Medical computers remain a contact point for germs and contagions, since they’re used by a number of different people on most days and can easily be passed on to patients. The CDC estimates that approximately 1.7 million cases of hospital acquired illnesses (HAIs) take place in the United States every year, with 99,000 fatalities among that number. Bedside workstations are of particular concern, since they are in close proximity to patients.

The best way to combat that is to use bedside medical PCs with anti-microbial coating on their surface, or antimicrobial properties baked into the resin. That helps reduce the spread of germs on the device’s surface and allows staff members to use it with less chance of passing on any contagions. In addition, computers with an IP65 rating are protected against dust and liquid intrusion. That lets your staff clean the computer with liquid disinfectant – further reducing the spread of germs – without damaging the computer itself.

Ease of Access Helps Your Staff’s Efficiency

The patient’s bedside is where doctors and nurses check on the patient: monitoring their progress, taking key readings and administering medication if needed. Logging such data can be supremely tedious, especially when a practitioner has to write down data by hand for later entry into the system. A recent study by Forbes indicates that hospital staff spend an average of 2-3 hours of uncompensated time each day filling in such data.

Bedside computers allow doctors and nurses to access the data they need immediately. That ease of access can extend to taking readings and checking the status of medication, as well as entering the patient’s data into an electronic health record. Medical PCs with biometric scanners, RFID readers, barcode scanners and the like can pull up the patient’s charts simply by wiping a bracelet or running the scanner over a barcode on the medication needed. That, in turn, permits the staff to move through their rounds quickly, while still maintaining high levels of accuracy and ensuring that medication and other treatments are applied as required.

Patient Accessibility Provides Swift Answers to Basic Questions

Beyond the hospital staff, patients themselves can take advantage of bedside medical grade computers to improve their care. Specifically, patient portals, which give patients access to at least some of their medical records – scheduled appointments, lab results, discharge summaries and recent doctor visits, among other information – enhance their understanding of their condition and the means used to treat it. According to research from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health information Technology, 52 percent of individuals under care of a health provider accessed their medical records via a patient portal. Of that number, 80% considered such information useful to their treatment.

Tethered patient portals – those directly linked to your organization’s electronic medical care systems (EMR) – can easily be made accessible from a bedside computer system. A given patient can access the pertinent data via scans from a medical bracelet, allowing them access to said data while securing other information in the network that doesn’t relate to them. Access to such records helps patients better understand the specifics of their treatment, which helps illuminate their condition and eliminate worry. Patient portals also answer basic questions 24 hours a day, without having to wait for a doctor or a nurse to arrive on their rounds.

Infotainment Improves the Patient Experience

In addition to immediate information regarding their treatment and condition, bedside computers can provide infotainment options to keep patients’ spirits up and allow them to remain in touch with loved ones. Options such as these do far more than simply alleviate patient boredom. According to studies from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a positive patient experience makes it less likely that they will make an error in their medication after being discharged, as well as reducing the chances of re-admission by as much as 50%. That can translate into lower costs incurred by the hospitals themselves, as well as more successful treatment.

Medical panel PCs at one’s bedside can accomplish a great deal on this front. With WiFi access, patients can surf the internet or watch movies and television programs via platforms such as Netflix. Applications such as Skype let them contact friends or relatives, some of whom may be quite distant or be unable to visit them otherwise. They can even order meals from the kitchen, saving the staff the time and effort of having to take down their orders. Bedside computers can be readily equipped with the components necessary for such features, including WiFi access, touchscreen technology to operate the system, a webcam for Skype and similar applications, and a proper speaker configuration.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers a number of medical computers to serve at patients’ bedsides. For more information, contact our team today.