All posts by cybernet

Understanding the Unique Requirements for Medical Computers in a Hospital Setting

Hospitals gather a large population of infected individuals in one place, so it’s difficult to keep nosocomial infections from happening. That requires different standards for hospital operation and use of equipment. One of the largest reasons for hospital beds and rooms filling up is the invisible agent—microbes and bacteria that pass on unwanted viruses and pathogens that can quickly affect a small population. Since medical computers and devices operate with patient care in mind, careful consideration of a device’s build, materials, controlling software, and other factors must pass FDA regulations and meet necessary standards. Plus, medical care is not just a “part time” task. Hospitals operate on a round-the-clock schedule—a health-related disaster can strike at a moment’s notice, especially within an intensive care unit. These specific reasons why medical computers and devices are unique to the hospital environment are examined in detail here.

Medical Computers Need Antimicrobial Housings

Medical grade computers are built with either an antimicrobial coating sprayed onto the device post production or include an antimicrobial resin mixed into the plastic housing during manufacturing. But what exactly does that mean? Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that describes a range of abilities that disinfect and ward off growth of microorganisms, often times originating from bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitical natures. The benefit of these medical computer builds is that even with passing microbes from surface to surface, the plastic housing of these medical computers discourages microbe growth. After multiple uses from several medical professionals, a computer built with antimicrobial plastics can still help prevent the spread of germs without constant disinfection. Recent news reports detail there was a bacterial outbreak at a nationally renowned hospital that infected ten patients, thankfully none of which were fatal. The patients were infants. An online report that detailed research into an Army ICU revealed MRSA bacteria living on keyboards, a problem that could have been alleviated with antimicrobial materials. It’s clear to see why medical computers require antimicrobial housing.

Medical Grade Computers Need to Meet Standards

One might ask what kind of regulations hardware and software might need for a hospital. A lot of consumer off-the-shelf products, both hardware and software, aren’t safe for patient and medical use. Consider what the implications could be using buggy software on a medical device! For that reason there are several rules, regulations, and standards for medical devices, some set by the International Electrotechnical Commission. One of the most accepted standards is the 60601-1 electrical and radiation standard, addressing verification, design methodology, risk / safety assessment for patients and staff, and other factors. It’s not possible to determine the total number of test cases for final revisions of hardware, which is why this standard is in place. Every revision this standard goes through brings significant changes to how medical grade computers and other devices must be built, often times focusing on the medical device’s operational distance to the patient. There are three distance classifications for the standard: B, BF, and CF. Type B operates near the patient, BF makes contact with the patient, and CF makes contact with a patient’s heart. Any medical device, whether in close vicinity or making contact with the patient, must meet the standards for safety. The FDA ensures medical grade computers and devices pass these standards for the safety of patients and the professionals that use them under the 510(k) regulation, requiring that manufacturers demonstrate their product is safe. There are a number of manufacturers that claim to have medical grade products, but haven’t actually been independently tested. Be sure to do your homework before any major hardware deployment.

Hospitals Need to Operate 24/7

Hospitals need to operate on a 24/7 timeline. Fortunately, the medical grade computers in question can operate with those time demands. It’s not just a matter of having a computer that’s always on—it’s a question of the computer’s internal components and if they’re intended to be on 24/7. For instance, many medical computers have an emergency back-up battery installed in order to remain functional during a power outage. Imagine if the power went out, all medical computers shut down, and all that patient data was lost! Even though most hospitals are equipped with backup generators, the seconds between a power outage and the generators coming online could result in massive data loss. Medical computers with hot swappable batteries eliminate the need to be reliant on an AC power source completely. These computers are powered by removable batteries and can provide up to 16 hours of run time before you need to exchange the batteries.

Medical grade computers cannot operate in the same manner that consumer-grade computers do; the implications of losing data, hardware malfunction, overheating, spread of germs, and other factors are far too great to sacrifice for patients. Plus, computers with moving parts are more likely to malfunction, especially under 24/7 operation.

One Must Consider the Application as Well

Even within a hospital, different departments have different needs. Operating rooms, labs, and ICU units are often sterile environments. In these environments,  a fanless medical computer would be required. To achieve fanless operation without overheating, these computers need to be built with specialized components that commercial grade manufacturers aren’t willing to invest in. The fanless operation prevents to spread of dust and germs through the air, which could be a major contamination concern in these high specialized areas.

In a perfect world, we’d be able to stop all nosocomial infections. For the world we live in, it’s important to use the right tools for hospital use to avoid spreading infection, keep patients safe, and operate at a moment’s notice without a high risk of failure. The published studies show that these are factors required by all hospitals to operate in the best manner possible.

medical grade PCs

Extending the Life of Medical Equipment with Medical Grade PCs

The IT challenges and needs for a healthcare facility are far different than those of a traditional enterprise. Mobility, EMR compatibility, 24/7 operability as well as the need to mitigate the transfer of germs and disease must all be factored in. But even within the healthcare space, needs can vary tremendously. Consider the differences between a hospital in a large metropolitan area vs. a hospital in a rural area. In a lot of rural areas, medical facilities don’t have the luxury of large budgets or the ability to upgrade medical equipment as regularly as a larger hospital in a more densely populated area might have. Extending the life of that machinery in a cost efficient manner is vital for these types of facilities in order to provide the very best in patient care without breaking the bank.

A customer of ours recently reached out to us to let us know how they have managed to extend the life of their mobile x-ray units by integrating a medical grade computer. Their solution turned out to be a stroke of genius, and allowed their facility to move from the analog age into the digital age.

Mobility Matters in Medical Grade Computing

Our customer employed mobile x-ray units in rural areas that needed medical grade computers for control. Consumer-grade computers wouldn’t have fit the bill—carrying around a heavily-wired computer and monitor would have been insufficient and cumbersome for medical staff, so they used medical-grade PCs with hot swappable battery functionality.  With a full 16 hours of uptime running on batteries, the staff didn’t need to connect to AC power while using their mobile x-ray medical devices with the medical grade computers. Plus, there’s no downtime with computers featuring hot swappable battery technology ensuring constant healthcare. Internet connectivity is also a concern. In rural areas, internet accessibility isn’t the best which calls for a different type of wireless capability. Many mobile computers are equipped with 3 and 4G wireless technology, so even in the most distant of places medical staff can send patient data to the hospital for review if need be.

Using Surgical Grade Monitors to Enter the Digital Age

Our customer was able to connect the surgical grade monitors to the mobile x-ray devices and get an instant x-ray result on the medical computer’s touch screen. Older technologies required large film emulsion plates that took hours to process within a dark room—that obviously isn’t a mobile solution. With an instant x-ray, our customer was able to zoom in on the patient’s affected area in question and diagnose patients. Instead of having to travel several miles to a distant hospital, wait for an x-ray, process the film, and then have a doctor review the x-rays, it’s done instantly on site so the hospital doesn’t need to purchase expensive and bulky film slates for x-rays. When patient mobility is reduced, it’s up to the medical staff to transport what’s needed in the most crucial times of patient healthcare. Our provided solution fit the needs for our customer and their patients.

Medical Devices in Healthcare IT Aren’t Cheap

Our customer needed a medical grade computer that interfaced with the mobile x-ray machines without a significant price tag. Older medical devices use a serial RS-232 port, which is a legacy port not often found on consumer-grade computers. The option to upgrade to a newer set of x-ray machines wasn’t available with average prices for them ranging well over 100 thousand. In acquiring the medical grade computers, they saved crucial business funds to focus on traveling to patients with hampered mobility.

Medical Computers That Also Meet Certifications

The medical grade computers our customer used weren’t just capable of interfacing with x-ray machines for medical staff use. The computers they purchased had a full spectrum of patient safety in mind, starting with an antimicrobial plastic that inhibited the spread and growth of microorganisms. These mobile computers with the hot swappable battery function were fanless and used internal solid state drives to prevent spreading dust and germs. They also met FDA standards for patient safety with a 60601-1 certification to protect patients from electrical and radiation-related hazards.

Online sources report that 80 rural hospitals have seen closures since 2010 and approximately 600 are suffering financially, numbers likely because patients and hospitals lack mobility. These computers helped the lives of people and kept hospital doors open. There are reasons beyond mobility, however, that prompted our customer to purchase these computers—they’re medically certified for hospital and patient room use. Consumer-grade PCs don’t measure up to the standard that these computers meet! Our customer was satisfied with their purchase of these computers with the hot swappable battery function, the instant x-ray feedback, and the medical certifications to protect patients.

 

EHR Compatibility

A Few Problems Medical Professionals Face with EHR Compatibility

Per the Health IT Dashboard, 87 percent of hospitals in the United States started utilizing EHR software in 2015, a massive jump in a ten-year timespan from 25 percent in 2005. It’s clear use of EHR software has become the majority standard in a decade. Medical professionals stick by this method of health IT and information monitoring because it reduces error, streamlines processes, and ensures patient satisfaction. However, that doesn’t suggest the EHR software universe is snag-free. As with any software, problems can arise when a new EHR software product is released into a medical environment with a competing software product, and many sources note that a collective of medical professionals are raising concerns about one of the most pressing aspects of EHR software: interoperability. This aspect of EHR does not address the capability or functionality of the software itself, but rather data transfer between systems that run on medical monitors. It comes down to what’s called the CCD, or continuing care document.

In EHR Compatibility, the CCD is What Matters Most

The CCD, per Wikipedia, is an “XML-based markup standard intended to specify the encoding, structure, and semantics of a patient summary clinical document for exchange.” A compromised development by ASTM International and Health Level Seven International’s Clinical Document Architecure, it is encoded by EHR software as it contains a substantial amount of data including medications, allergies, problems, lab results, and patient chart data. This document is widely shared among medical computers and EHR devices. While not a complete medical record, the CCD includes just the most crucial information for effective medical care. It should be viewable via any standard web browser, but some voices lament that’s not always the case with a lot of EHR software, which leads to one of the most prevalent problems in healthcare IT…

EHR Compatibility Can be Terrible Because of Proprietary Formatting

Much like proprietary audio files or specific Apple chargers vs. Android phone chargers, not every EHR software product exports a CCD that will be read by another. At first glance, it may seem that transferring EHR between systems is just a file transfer, but how does that file transfer take place? If medical professionals bring their own devices, there are HIPAA security concerns—putting a patient’s data on a USB flash drive certainly isn’t secure. If one EHR system is web-based and another isn’t, how does an individual transfer the files? Does a physician-hosted EHR system function with a remotely hosted system or a cloud-based system? EHR compatibility problems can arise within hospitals—not just on a hospital to hospital transfer—if their IT departments decide on conflicting software environments, further causing connectivity problems. It’s a tough call between remaining secure, transferring the information from one medical monitor to another, and finding the quickest way to do so without compromising the data. Sometimes medical professionals have to print EHR documents and transcribe them to another platform, introducing human error and lengthening a typically automated process. EHR has been a wide success because of the Meaningful Use program and the HITECH Act, but medical staff still spend time bothering with menial tasks getting information from A to B. Health care companies are encouraging EHR software developers to start using open format file types instead of proprietary. There’s still a lot of room to improve, unfortunately.

EHR Compatibility Depends on the Medical Computer

Certain medical computers, while meeting FDA standards for near-patient use, aren’t compatible with all EHR systems—some medical monitors operate on a 4:3 aspect ratio, while EHR systems may utilize a 16:9 ratio to display a full gamut of patient information. A computer with an incompatible display may reject software installation or could limit the functionality of the software. Furthermore, highly advanced EHR systems require two-factor authentication, and if a system isn’t equipped with hardware to scan authentication methods, it may likely reject installation. Compatibility isn’t just a matter of speaking with other EHR software products—it’s a matter if the medical monitor in question can even support it.

A Way Out of EHR Compatibility Concern

Epic is one of the most prominent EHR systems used in the medical industry, and there’s a strong reason for it; interoperability is a key aspect of the Epic EHR system. There have been strides to see a universal healthcare data format for EHR systems, but it’s still a goal that not every company adheres to yet, even though Epic has been a key software product in that avenue. The Sequoia Project is an organization that advocates for nationwide health information exchange, and Carequality is a project within Sequoia designed to address interoperability between all parties in a healthcare IT network—addressing policy and technical agreements for the exchange of data. As for now, EHR compatibility can be addressed by ensuring all computers running a specific EHR—whichever it may be—remain in the same local “network.” Having a unified system with similar hardware cuts down on training time and bypasses any compatibility problems. Ensuring that the computers that run the EHR software are certified for that software is a must too—purchasing a computer deployment that ultimately doesn’t work with a given EHR system is wasted money. If your corporation goes with Epic for your EHR solution, keep in mind that many of our CyberMed computers are Epic and Cerner certified.

Hopefully in the near future we’ll see a unified, open format data file shareable among all EHR systems so we can focus on patient health instead of the technology supporting it. This unified system will take effort from several roles—the government, EHR providers, payers, and patients too. Some medical professionals argue that EHR developers must have proper incentives to cater to a unified system; it is a competitive market, after all.

 

Multiple Hardware Vendors

Multiple Hardware Vendors vs 1—Weighing the Pros and Cons of Both Approaches

In a business setting, it’s not always clear what the best decisions are. Discounts often drive who is chosen for hardware implementation. Unfortunately for many, the largest discount might mean the fattest payout in the long run, and it’s the clairvoyance IT professionals need to see how extensive an expensive route will pay off for them, ironically. Sometimes choosing multiple hardware vendors for a company’s IT needs is a good idea for certain business applications—and sometimes not. Imagine placing a competitor computer’s battery in the wrong workstation on wheels! Problems can arise for multiple industries if an IT department takes the wrong business approach. We look at both sides critically, first by pointing out that multiple hardware vendors isn’t the best idea.

Multiple Hardware Vendors Don’t Work Together

The sad truth is that no IT infrastructure lasts forever. It’s nice to have support on hand whenever a hardware component goes awry, even though the process may not be the most enjoyable. The roughest part is when IT professionals can’t pinpoint a specific diagnosis for a particular problem—maybe a firewall is blocking internal access to a server by one small setting, or perhaps another component in the entire infrastructure causes all emails to be rerouted to the helpdesk. Either way, if a problem with a computer arises, like with a workstation on wheels, and there’s a conflict with another computer from a different vendor, prepare for a battle of finger pointing. One vendor will likely accuse another’s hardware of malfunction, and so beings the process of calling each vendor back and forth or even having a conference call to determine what the true problem with the conflicting computer might be—if that even solves the problem. Once the “finger pointing battle” is over, it might take a networking specialist to locate the culprit. Purchasing from a single vendor increases the likelihood of network integrity, higher security, total functionality, and easier support so that every workstation communicates effectively with all others.

Multiple Hardware Vendors Leave You to Figure out the Problems

Sometimes with different hardware on the network, a vendor’s integration technician won’t be able to get computers talking. For instance, let’s say the data on one workstation on wheels is encrypted with a trusted platform module and a technician needs to network it with un-encrypted computers—is that a possibility? Likely not, and it’s left up to the IT department to figure out. Medical grade computers are often equipped with trusted platform modules to encrypt data, and they won’t talk well with something off the shelf. Refer to the first point we mentioned about the potential fiasco an IT department could face when mixing different vendors.

Contract Negotiations Can be Troublesome

Hypothetically, let’s say an IT department purchases from three separate vendors—one can deliver in two days, another can deliver in three weeks, and the third hasn’t gotten approval from department heads. A full network of computers won’t be deployed for weeks! Consulting with one hardware vendor will ensure full deployment of all computers for the entire network instead of having to deal with multiple contracts, conflicting contract timelines, several points of communication, delays in shipping, differences in support, distinctions in policies, mismatched software upgrade timelines, and hardware incompatibilities. Single contract business operations clearly outweigh multiple here.

Think About The End Users–Your Staff

It takes time to train people on specific hardware. If the powers that be purchase vastly different workstations, it’ll take time and effort to train people on proper usage of each of them. A tablet with barcode scanner is used in a much different manner than a workstation on wheels. The hardware differences between conflicting vendors could be vast to a point where it takes more training than necessary, unless all hardware comes from the same vendor. Some vendors require to have training specialists sent out in the field—an expense companies only want to endure once.

The Positive Points of Multiple Hardware Vendors

In our unbiased approach, we recognize that there are benefits to multiple vendors. As before, the clearest benefit is access to discounts—generally the lowest bidder is the winner in the short run. Also, mixing hardware gives IT departments greater access to a variety of technology so professionals can pick and choose what they consider easier to work with or better. Choosing multiple hardware vendors also addresses individual preferences for hardware—perhaps one nurse on a medical staff prefers using one brand’s workstation on wheels over another. That’s a clear aspect where multiple hardware vendors may benefit the staff. Every corporation is different, so consider all possibilities that can benefit the staff and help the corporation grow. As before, keeping competition between vendors for your next workstation deployments might be better in the short term for price, but total network connectivity will net better results in the long-term. Consider Cybernet’s workstations for your next deployment.

space saving computers help the enterprise market

4 Reasons Why All-in-One Space Saving Computers are Best for the Enterprise Setting

The enterprise setting is not easily defined; multiple dictionaries define the enterprise as merely a business organization, a particular project, a systematic, purposeful activity, or other generic definitions. That doesn’t define how an enterprise functions. It may function as a handful of employees in a small office, or perhaps a few thousand employees in a tower block setting. Regardless, an enterprise will always need to function under certain constraints, and computer arrangement must fit within those constraints. Sometimes an enterprise must use all in one PCs for a variety of reasons. Here’s four examples of what we mean when we claim these space saving computers are best for the enterprise setting.

Space Saving Computers Get Rid of the Rat’s Nests

When a series of computers are deployed in an enterprise setting, IT professionals must use careful consideration of all the peripherals and devices a system might be integrated with. Think of all the cables one computer might need—a desktop computer needs main power, monitor connectivity and power, an ethernet cable out to a router, a USB keyboard, USB mouse, speaker power and connectivity, and other connections. Gather a series of computers in this fashion, and suddenly the cable management task turns into a fiasco! If eight computers are deployed into a small office or cubicle environment, how will these cables be routed? Are there safety concerns? The more wires an IT team has to consider in computer deployment, the longer it may take to get to full production status—which means more money. Time and money constraints, especially early in setting up an enterprise, are crucial factors for a business whether the business is migrating to a new office or setting up initial infrastructure.

A huge benefit to all in one PCs is that they have minimal wires. Typically these computers are bundled with wireless mice and keyboards, so the “rat’s nest” factor is a small concern. Wireless network cards are often built-in as well, so instead of planning out an ethernet connectivity setup, the all in one PCs can connect directly to a wireless router to reduce cable management efforts. At the very least, a space saving computer needs just one cable—for power!

Space Saving Computers Help with Hardware Needs

If an IT team purchases a series of desktop computers, does that fit the intended use? It’s a no-brainer all computers need monitors, and all in one PCs have that necessity taken care of. A conference computer might need a webcam to hold weekly meetings with different offices. Perhaps all computers will need webcams to hold online conferences to discuss key business points—and so which webcam does a business acquire, and for how many computers? Perhaps a particular webcam won’t work with a certain model computer, easily complicating implementation. To add, sometimes desks aren’t suitable for specific work areas, necessitating a different approach to implementing a computer. So how does one solve all these problems?

Cybernet’s all in one PCs are uniform in design, so corporations can deploy them with ease. Not enough desk space for a computer? Mount the space saving computer on a VESA mount and use the touch screen capability! Need to move a computer with a webcam to a different workstation? All enterprise computers are equipped with webcams. All in one PCs take care of the guesswork of which computers might need what peripherals, providing a solution in a complete package.

Ease of Project Deployment and Imaging

Will all computers be running engineering software? If that’s the case, it’s best to order a series of all in one PCs as a deployment project to ensure everyone has identical hardware and software. Migrating old computers with a group of newly deployed computers could turn into a compatibility nightmare—we shudder at mixing Windows XP with Windows 10, or a PC with an Apple computer. Ensuring identical hardware and software will reduce compatibility problems, increase office synergy, and ensure fewer problems for IT to handle down the road. Plus, one computer can be configured a specific way to operate for business use and that configuration can be “cloned” to install on all remaining machines, saving IT more time and money. Consider a small office—30 people—each with their own computer. Every crucial component in that small office has a risk of breaking down and halting production for at least one employee. Purchasing a series of identical all in one PCs is the pathway to getting an individual employee up and running quickly. With drive imaging, the space saving computer can be immediately replaced, turning downtime into virtually no time and getting employees back to work. Also, with the built-in battery that some models carry, employees can save their work in the event of a power failure.

Space Saving Computers Have a Wider Market

IT professionals often shop for computers that fit specific jobs—worsening the compatibility aspect. What’s more is some desktop computers can cost thousands more than basic desktops based on the individual needs of employees. At Cybernet, each space saving computer has a wider range of capability than their desktop brethren; an engineer can benefit from using a space saving computer just as much as a graphic designer can. The touch screen technology can be used as a designer’s drawing space or an industrial worker’s touch panel PC, combining two marketable applications into one PC solution. A space saving computer can be connected to a large television and turned into a conference room PC, complete with webcam and a wireless keyboard and mouse set. Cybernet’s all in one PCs fit more specific jobs because of their increased functionality and capability across markets.

The versatility of Cybernet’s all in one PCs, like the iOne H24, make them perfect for an enterprise setting by reducing clutter, easing deployment if a technical problem arises, broadening the applicable market for each workstation, and increasing office synergy by ensuring compatibility between stations.

Medical Device End of Life Cycle

3 Reasons Why End of Life Matters for Medical Equipment Manufacturers

The end of life (EoL) or PC life cycle is an important topic in the medical device manufacturing world. A PC life cycle can be defined as a cycle that describes the usefulness of a desktop or laptop computer to an agency, from its initial acquisition through its ultimate disposal—a fitting definition. Cybernet’s entire line of medical computers have a 3-5 year life cycle that’s determined by evaluating several factors—longevity of all computer components, intent of each computer, average use time, environmental factors, software that’s to be used, and other reasons. Sometimes, however, medical computers go through revision changes that can signify an end of life, and the process from revision change back to full certification is highly involved! The revision process to certify a medical computer just to control a specific medical device can be a complicated thing, especially if the two devices don’t communicate well. Here are some ways that the end of life cycles affect medical device manufacturers and the processes that happen behind the scenes.

End of Life Cycles Means Customers Must Review Changes

End of Life for certain components in a system doesn’t mean just replacing said components; it takes time to review what changes were made, suggest implications for impact, and go through a process called design verification for both hardware and software. All settings, drivers, and applications need adjustment to fit the new drive images. The devices must be rigorously tested together, bugs must be addressed both on a software and hardware level, and then the results must be sent to the FDA to ensure an entirely seamless validation.  All documentation (the device master record, drawings, etc.) that is associated with the hardware in question must be updated too. Verification and validation are two intense procedures—validation is defined per Wikipedia as the assurance that a product, service, or system meets the needs of the customer and other identified stakeholders. Verification is defined as the evaluation of whether or not a product, service, or system complies with a regulation, requirement, specification, or imposed condition. These are at the heart of design verification, just one component of the entire implementation from A to Z. That doesn’t even factor in signatures and approvals from medical device executives and FDA individuals. These processes are highly involved and can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for implementation depending on the severity of changes—even a small revision to a tiny component! It’s clear that these steps are under heavy scrutiny and take careful thought to move through. The goal is to ensure hospital satisfaction and patient safety in all these steps, which leads to…

End of Life Cycles Mean More Certifications Are Coming

FDA approvals alone are difficult to achieve since all of our medical computers must be rigorously tested with the medical devices in question. Any revisions or changes to a medical computer must be resubmitted for certification in order to work with medical devices again. Imagine the implications of having an untested medical computer on an x-ray machine! Even a pair of similar computers don’t have the same electromagnetic compatibility (or EMC), so switching computers on a medical device isn’t very simple. Introducing an untested medical computer to a medical device could cause it to malfunction, necessitating months and perhaps years of testing before certifications. That doesn’t even consider global certifications, as every locale where our medical grade computers may be used could have vastly different requirements. Different certifications can cost more time, resources, and money, sometimes in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What that Means for The Operator and Patient

The FDA categorizes medical devices into three classes of risk, the third class being the highest risk—pacemakers, for example. Patient and operator lives are at risk when working with class 3 medical devices, but those cannot be put to market without full verification and validation. The FDA requires full V&V for Cybernet’s medical computers to function with class 3 medical devices, a process that is ensured through rigorous testing, retesting, and approval. Patient and operator safety is in good hands when a medical computer’s end of life is in question—every computer out of our warehouse that interfaces with a medical device isn’t just some assemblage of parts that works with machines. They are fully-approved and certified medical computers designed from the ground up for patient and operator safety. Yes, it takes time and money for our customers to use these computers with their medical devices. That’s just proof that we are second to none in this amazing industry.

 

industrial grade components

3 Reasons Why Industrial Grade Components Matter in a Manufacturing Setting

A computer’s build is just as important as its function; without sufficient industrial grade components for a particular setting, a computer’s TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) could be higher than expected. That’s an important consideration on customization for a full corporation project—how should a series of computers be built? A Cybernet whitepaper addresses environmental requirements for computer builds, touching on energy consumption, EPEAT ratings, ingress protection, low / high heat environments, and other environmental factors that touch on important considerations, not only how an industrial mini PC functions, but what it needs to function in a range of different industries and environments. Here are a few to discuss in detail.

Industrial Grade Components Can Withstand Extreme Temperatures

One only need to glance at an industrial mini PC to get an idea of how these computers withstand extreme temperatures. These industrial mini PCs are housed in full aluminum heat sinks that absorb and dissipate heat efficiently. Cybernet’s iPC line of computers can operate in temperatures from -25 degrees C up to 70 degrees C and can withstand extreme temperature fluctuations. The operating temperature range is a key difference between industrial grade components and commercial grade components. Industrial grade components typically have much wider operating temperatures than commercial grade, making PCs built from them perfect for factories or outdoor environments where temperature fluctuation is an expected circumstance. These components expand the MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) expected for the computer and extend the use time for corporations, effectively reducing computer purchase cycles and saving the corporation money on a long-term basis. Some industrial grade computers retain ten times the lifespan of a commercial grade computer! Longevity and focused functionality are what these computers are built for. Cybernet’s industrial mini PCs are rated at a higher MTBF than commercial grade because of use of industrial grade components on our motherboards. All of Cybernet’s computers have a 50k hour MTBF, meaning your industrial mini PC running continuously, on average, will function for between 6 and 7 years before needing service.

Certified Industrial Grade Components for Any Industry

A lot of our industrial mini PCs pass the IEC 60068-2-27 standard, basically meaning shock-proof. Much like the 60601-1 standard for electrical hazard and radiation, this standard states that the “specimen,” or computer in question, is acceptable to withstand shock pulses and vibrations that are meant to reproduce the same real-world effect such as transport mishaps or accidental droppage—not that droppage would happen often anyhow, since the industrial mini PCs are intended for rack and DIN mounting. Plus, dust is a natural component pest. These computers are fanless so they’re not drawing in tiny mites of dust to clog up components, risking their longevity. Clients can even customize these rugged mini computers to be turned on with a terminal block—basically a remote switch so the PC can reside in an enclosure. With a myriad of different legacy and modern ports, these computers can support a lot of devices and peripherals that commercial grade can’t, such as a scanner or receipt printer. Good luck finding a desktop computer with a RS-232 serial port, or an LPT port—those legacy connections often require expensive and rare adapters to function properly, if at all. All these certifications and system protections in place ensure longevity with a MTBF of 50k+ hours of continuous usage. Cybernet also boasts a less than 2 percent failure rate for all computers within their life cycles.

Industrial Grade Components for Hazardous Materials

Panel PCs are exposed to biohazardous materials and contaminants every day; that’s why it’s important they retain their IP ratings. This video demonstrates how resilient our sealed panel PCs are against direct splashes of water! The iPC R3 Fanless Industrial Panel PC protects against liquids hitting it’s front panel with the IP65 rating. Not only is this panel PC sealed, it’s still rated with the IEC60068-2-27 standard, holds up within extreme temperatures with its industrial grade components, and doesn’t have much ingress because of its fanless design. Sealed bezel panel PCs are easy to disinfect and clean—spray on, wipe off, compute.

Cybernet thinks of all possible hazardous environments and undesirable results when it comes to crucial computing devices. The standards we meet and certifications achieved by our industrial machines allow them to be resilient in nearly any environment, around any hazardous materials, and within any reasonable extreme temperature with their industrial grade components. These computers are prepared for shock damage, accidental droppage, and are ready for deployment in any industry, whether it’s medical, industrial, or commercial enterprise. Customize a panel PC right now and streamline your business operations while saving money and time.

3 Ways Patient Infotainment is Improving Patient Health

Credence Research, a worldwide market research and counseling firm, reports that increasing demands across the US, UK, and other nations for patient infotainment systems have prompted large investments from hospitals, making patient infotainment one of the largest markets in the world. The last place anyone wants to visit for an extended period of time is a hospital, so we’re seeing an increase in patient infotainment solutions. Trends for this market have been on the rise, combining the entertainment software application market with medical tracking software so medical computers serve a dual purpose—informing medical staff about patient conditions, and (hopefully) improving patient conditions by taking their mind off of why they’re in a hospital to begin with. There’s more to infotainment than that, however, and it requires a little education in patient infotainment trends to understand why.

Trends in Patient Infotainment Remove the Mystery

It’s not always clear how things operate in hospitals. The standard used to be reliance on nurses for everything—changing a television channel, ordering food, adjusting the bed, and other factors that would detract from a nurse’s duties. Patient infotainment is designed to remove the guesswork and present all options to a patient while freeing up most of the menial duties originally tended to by nurses and doctors. Instead of using a call button, waiting for a nurse to arrive, and then asking for blinds to be open or shut, that process is a patient engagement wrapped into a medical computer that a patient can easily access. Fewer questions are asked, nurses and doctors have more time to address pressing needs, and patient satisfaction results are higher. This reduces workload and stress for medical staff, thus boosting morale, potentially opening the door for larger staff, reducing the patient to nurse ratio, and increasing overall hospital efficiency rates. A recent case study showed that a standard hospital in France had a total staff-to-patient care time of about eight minutes on average. Efforts to implement patient infotainment systems can increase that time. To add, patients can turn their infotainment into edutainment, learning about their ailments while awaiting their next visitation or apple pie. RomexSoft recently gave a list of five overriding goals of EHR, one of them being inclusion and engagement of patients in their own care. If patients are educated about their own ailments, they may know enough to avoid ending up in the hospital again. Infotainment systems are key in stimulating conversations between medical staff and patients, removing ignorance about medical conditions that are keeping patients from their normal lives.

Connectivity is a Phone Call Away

Perhaps the most crucial aspect of patient infotainment is the ability to reach out to friends and family. With voice-and-video applications built-in to the medical grade monitors, patients can reach out to loved ones with the touch of a few buttons to connect. This factor alone is probably the greatest patient satisfaction feature medical computers can provide in hospitals. Not only can patients talk with anyone online, the connectivity of a medical tablet gives access to music, YouTube, movies, and even games. Much of the patient recuperation process isn’t just about healing—it’s about taking care of the full needs of the patient, which includes mental stimulation and removing the feeling that a patient is “all alone.”

Patient Infotainment Still Needs to be Informative

The benefits of having a single medical grade monitor for both the patient and hospital staff are numerous. Nurses can check medical records and see instant patient biofeedback, then return the PC to patient use. Doctors can prescribe medications and then have them sent to patient rooms within minutes. With security features enabled like a CAC or RFID scanner, medical staff can access important records, hide the unimportant details for patients, and then return the PC to patient operating status. A lot of the EHR software is entirely cloud-based, so if there’s ever a PC malfunction it can be replaced quickly with minimal loss to data. Plus, EHR software updates can happen universally, avoiding EHR compatibility between PCs. Medical professionals are constantly kept at the latest version of their software, and patients get the latest entertainment values during their stay.

The CyberMed H22 medical grade all in one computer is a widely popular choice for hospitals and patient infotainment systems. It features a sealed front bezel to protect against dust and water, an anti-microbial housing to ward off infections, and is certified to be patient safe. It’s built with infotainment in mind, reducing time medical staff use to cater to a patient’s needs so they can focus on more important duties. Customize it today to fit your medical PC needs.

How Companies are Automating the Warehouse with Industrial Tablets

Now that eCommerce has blossomed into the giant industry it is today, online retailers find automation is a more pressing need. Supply Chain Brief reports that Amazon hired over 120,000 workers one holiday season just to fulfill the influx of online orders—not a light expense! Automating the warehouse is no easy feat, since some operations in the supply chain management field are currently better handled by humans than robots. A fully-automated warehouse would be a supply chain dream, but we haven’t reached that point yet unfortunately. However, companies have made improvements in other areas which have streamlined processes. Automating the warehouse is an easier task with use of an industrial grade tablet, and here’s a few reasons why.

On-Demand Warehouse Feedback with Industrial Tablets

One obvious problem with automation is “the machine” can—and will—fail from time to time. Even Tesla’s self-driving automobiles have a track record of failing when on self-driving mode, a record recently improved through functionality implementation. The same can happen in an automated warehouse—the incorrect product is picked by a machine, a scanner can malfunction, or a conveyor belt can break down, essentially bringing production to a halt. The best way to avoid cascading problems is to have the right individuals notified of a problem immediately. If a conveyor belt breaks, managers with industrial tablets can receive instant feedback of what has malfunctioned and where—or perhaps even control automation systems remotely. Keeping information transfer as quickly as possible allows people to make the right decisions in an event of automation failure. If warehouse managers don’t have that immediate access to information via an industrial tablet, automation failure can be costly—it’s clear a battery-powered, tough tablet is the solution to keep automation problems addressed.

Traceability by RFID Technology

Since the consumer purchase process has turned highly automated in the past 15 years, the needs for the supplying warehouse must meet those demands. Traceability is necessary in an automated warehouse, and so all products need to be marked with RFID tags to track where they move. Without immediate and constant access to tracking any one item in an automated warehouse, companies are at the whim of human mistakes, automation errors, mechanical failures, and other factors. That’s why it’s important for warehouse managers to have battery-powered industrial tablets—lightweight, rugged computers that provide necessary tracking information through RFID. That’s just one method how companies are automating the warehouse to keep efficiency high.

Industrial Tablets Must be Made Industrial-Strength

Warehouse managers won’t be looking for the best rugged tablet crafted out of Fabergé eggs. Similarly, they won’t want a tablet rivaling the size and heft of a tank. Tablets must be lightweight to reduce fatigue and rugged enough to withstand several drops onto a warehouse floor. Managers also need a tough tablet with protection from hazardous materials—water and tablets don’t mix. Tablet users need to be free of tethers and safety hazards, so a battery-powered solution is a must. Plus, barcode scanners are crucial to warehouse operations in order to identify and count product.

The Cybernet Industrial Tablets Solution—the Rugged Windows Tablet X10

Cybernet has our best rugged tablet to assist with automating the warehouse—the X10 industrial grade tablet! It’s capable of withstanding constant shock damage, sand and dust exposure, temperature extremes, prolonged exposure to humidity, and random vibration with it’s MIL-STD-810G design standard, a standard maintained by a partnership between the US Navy, US Army, and the US Air Force. The tablet can also resist water splashes and sprays to it’s front bezel with it’s IP65 rating. This tough tablet is portable around an automated warehouse with hot-swappable batteries that can keep it running all day. Plus, the tablet weighs 2.2 pounds with the batteries installed! Automating the warehouse may not be a fully-realized vision, but industrial tablets like the rugged X10 are helping supply chain professionals ensure current systems in place are running smoothly and mishaps can be addressed with minimal downtime.

How Two-Factor Authentication can Improve HIT Security

How Two-Factor Authentication is a Small-Scale Standard for Protecting Information

This year is no stranger to cyber-security attacks. One need only to refer to the Equifax data leak to recall security mishaps, or the ransomware culprit “WannaCry” that holds protected information “ransom” unless victims pay to have the compromised files released. These and other attacks hit several corporations utilizing infrastructure weaknesses and security ignorance, compromising information for voters, financial records, email records, and other sensitive information, bringing higher awareness to the online community about keeping all information as safe as possible. One area that is often overlooked is personal medical records, which can be just as valuable to cyber criminals as personal financial data. That’s where Two-Factor Authentication can come into play for healthcare IT professionals. It can ensure data is just as safe at the individual user level as it is protected on a massive, corporate scale.

Problems of Single Authentication

Authentication refers to one of various methods of accessing important information, whether it’s a remembered password, a physical authentication token, a common access card, a biometric scanner storing user-specific information, or other methods. The problem with some of these methods is they’re too weak—unsophisticated passwords can be guessed by brute force, passwords can be forgotten, or worse, passwords can be stolen and then used by unauthorized individuals. Access cards can get lost, stolen, or “ripped” by devices that pull the information off of them to be reused maliciously. Cheap biometric devices may incorrectly read a person’s face or fingerprint, locking out access or providing access to the wrong individual. Compound these problems in an environment with a lot of sensitive data, and suddenly single authentication becomes the problem rather than the proper security protocol.

How Two-Factor Authentication Addresses Problems

Instead of using complex passwords that can lock users out or flee bad memory, authentication can be approved by using accurate biometric scanners and RFID identifiers integrated onto the medical grade PCs and tablets that healthcare  professionals use on a daily basis. removing human entry altogether. By removing the human element—loss and forgetfulness—medical professionals can access patient information with minimized risk to violating HIPAA laws.  Imprivata’s intelligent Single Sign-On platform removes the need to remember complex passwords and erroneous entries—this is a security protocol standard that requires certified hardware in order to authenticate successfully. Also, using a highly accurate biometric scanner is a must-have since fingerprints cannot be lost or “stolen” much like cards can. Ensuring these systems are in place and functioning properly is key for maximum possible security on patient information.

Two-Factor Authentication is a Growing Standard for Medical Computers

Seen as Two-Factor Authentication is a growing tech trend in hospitals in some states, it’s already at the forefront of security protocols for medical professionals and hospitals to use on their medical computers. Ohio is the first state to require Two-Factor Authentication for HIPAA laws. However nearly half the hospitals in the United States are using Two-Factor protocols, meaning it is quickly becoming the standard, even if it isn’t mandated by law. Corporations are using high-quality authentication protocols that require certified hardware in order to authenticate properly, such as Imprivata’s sophisticated Single Sign-On platform and CrossMatch’s high-quality biometric scanners that are Imprivata-certified. These necessary certifications are the best market-available products to ensure security.

Two-“Fact”or Authentication Facts

The Office of the National Coordination for HIT recently reported that there was a 53-percent jump in hospitals over the course of four years that started utilizing Two-Factor Authentication for their HIT needs. Christus Health, an Imprivata user, reported over 2.3 million dollars was saved using Single Sign-On technology. Crossmatch’s DigitalPersona technology has been implemented in several HIT companies, touting ease-of-use across multiple IT infrastructures. Using these technologies together is making an impact in today’s HIT world.

Solutions for Two-Factor Authentication

The good news is that every medical computer that Cybernet manufactures is customizable for Two-Factor Authentication—biometrics, CAC integration, or RFID scanning can be added for security needs. Plus, Cybernet’s computers are approved for Imprivata Single Sign-On use, so the human element has been removed for password entry. Our biometric scanners come from CrossMatch, which are high-quality readers certified to work with Imprivata—you can rest assured that a biometric reading will be accurate and that it will authenticate users with Imprivata SSO. These security protocols in place minimize information leaks and keep out unwanted individuals from accessing what they shouldn’t have access to. Visit the Cybernet website to see how we can customize our hardware to meet your unique needs.