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4 Ways Telehealth Is Improving Patient Care

Telehealth is the practice of using medical grade computers and medical tablets to provide health care remotely. Telehealth practices put doctors in closer contact with distant patients, save time and energy with instant communication, and improve point-of-care services with accurate and detailed information. As our world becomes more and more connected, such practices will assume increasingly larger roles in the medical industry.

The practice of telehealth requires specific medical computers set up for such duties. When used properly, they can improve patient care in a number of ways, which is the ultimate goal for any medical organization. Four of the most prominent means are discussed below.

Time is a Factor in Wound Care

Immediate trauma usually requires immediate treatment, especially when it comes to physical injury and wounds. Getting to the emergency room can take up a great deal time, however, and yet the physician won’t be able to perform a diagnosis until the patient arrives on-site. That can lead to issues with dressing and care of the wound, and in some cases can even make the injury worse.

Telehealth practices provide a valuable advantage here. Using a tablet PC, the EMT can take a picture of the wound and send it to the hospital while the patient is en route. That allows the physicians to perform a preliminary diagnosis – including determining the cause of the wound, the extent of the damage, and any further danger to the patient, if any – without having to wait until the patient reaches them. That, in turn, allows them to recommend proper dressing and initial care for the wound, which can help stabilize the injury and minimize the damage. It also allows them to prep X-ray machines if broken bones are a factor and clear similar devices for immediate use when the patient arrives: further reducing the time required to treat the injury.

Rural Services Can Extend Their Reach

Not every patient can readily reach a care facility. People in rural areas, for instance, may be many miles from a proper hospital, while shut-ins and patients without ready means of transportation might be physically unable to reach care even if it’s not that far away. Physicians can schedule house calls, but it takes an effort to reach a distant patient, which limits the number of people they can treat in a given day and wastes a great deal of time in transit.

According to a 2017 study from American Well, 69% of U.S. adults believe that video conferencing will provide the best overall care (as opposed to merely 26% who thought a phone call would be best, and 5% who thought an email would be best). The same study also found that patients tend to trust their primary care physicians more than doctors who they do not know.

Telehealth practices allow doctors to virtually visit these patients. The physician can perform a diagnosis, prescribe medication, consult on long-term care, and even take readings with help from the patient or a local caregiver. That cuts down on transit time and allows patients without ready access to health care to receive qualified treatment. Telehealth allows PCPs to give their distant patients genuine face time, which reduces anxiety as well as allowing the patient to remain in comfortable and familiar surroundings.

Mobile Clinics and “Street Medicine” Practices Are Much Improved

Mobile clinics are a vital service to many communities, allowing doctors to travel anywhere with advanced medical devices in tow. According to a study by The American Journal of Managed Care, there are some 2,000 mobile clinics operating in the United State, 44% of which offer primary care services. They can include anything from bloodmobiles collecting donations at schools or offices to “street medicine” services providing care for the homeless and other at-risk demographics.

Telehealth practices can improve such services by keeping the mobile clinic in touch with experts and facilities they might not have otherwise. There are only so many staff members one can place in a mobile clinic, after all, and only so many pieces of equipment that can be practically placed on the vehicle. But telehealth can connect the station back to the hospital: sending patient data for analysis, consulting medical experts who wouldn’t otherwise be accessible, and connect the team on the street to the same resources a patient would have were they to receive care in the hospital itself.

For example, consider a mobile clinic serving a homeless shelter, including a patient with a skin condition that can’t readily be identified. By the time the staff back at the hospital pinpoints the condition, the patient may be long gone and unable to be readily found. But a connection via a medical tablet PC allows the staff to instantly consult a dermatologist back at the hospital, and receive both a diagnosis and a recommendation for long-term treatment in a single session.

Bedside Treatment Becomes Much More Convenient

Telehealth practices aren’t limited to locations outside the hospital or care facility. Patients being treated in a given clinic may not be able to leave their beds, or can do so only with great difficulty, which complicates their treatment considerably. There is a considerable benefit to being able to bring a computer on wheels right up to the patient’s bed, not only for a specialist or primary care physician to conduct a consultation while they’re off-site, but for fast diagnoses in the middle of the night or during similar periods when a specialist might not be on hospital grounds.

Consider the case of nursing homes, for instance. Many homes offer visits from physicians for their residents, but don’t have a doctor on permanent staff. Yet residents often have limited mobility and if they require treatment after the doctor has left for the day, it might entail an ambulance trip to the hospital: wasting precious time and putting the patient under unnecessary physical strain. Telehealth practices allow the nursing staff to contact the doctor, wheel a medical cart computer right to the patient’s bedside, and get a diagnosis and treatment plan in a fraction of the time and effort it would take otherwise.

Cybernet Manufacturing offers medical tablets with the features required to smoothly integrate telehealth practices with the remainder of your operation. Contact us today to explore your options.

Industrial tablets can help with automating the warehouse.

Industrial Computers Are Revolutionizing Smart Factories

A revolution is underway in the industrial sector. Smart factories – automated facilities aimed at eliminating human error – are replacing their more traditional counterparts and expanding rapidly in the process. A recent article in Forbes estimates that they will add $500 billion or more to the global economy by 2022. They’re the wave of the future, and they are here to stay.

There’s always been a certain amount of automation in modern factories. But older systems were limited to machines that could perform just a single task, such as connecting a bolt or releasing a valve. The advent of smarter industrial computers with more processing power allows for increasingly complex automated functions. The machinery is able to improve its efficiency over time and self-optimize to maximize the physical production of goods.

As a result, smart factories can reduce production costs by lowering or eliminating the need for human oversight. Because the system can make automatic changes, there’s much less risk of error. And with lowered costs and increased efficiency comes a higher quality product that the customer can purchase for less. Smart factories are also safer, since humans don’t need to stay in close proximity of potentially dangerous components or materials.

As you may have guessed, good industrial PCs play a huge role in smart factory operation, which brings us to another interesting stat from Forbes. As of July, 2017, some 76% of manufacturers either had a smart factory in operation or were in the process of developing one. Yet only 14% of companies reported being satisfied with the level of accomplishment. Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement… and with a smart factory’s potential to elevate profits, lower the cost of production and keep customers happy, a quality rugged mini computer may be the perfect way to do so.

Industrial Computers Have the Answer

Computers with rugged design and certified protection against dust and liquids are absolutely essential for any factory setting. Depending on the product being created, humid conditions, dry conditions, dust in the air, vibrations, and even bumps or drops are quite common. Any PC in that environment needs to stand up to harsh conditions, while still performing its job and coordinating the various aspects of the smart system.

That means more than just a strong chassis. For instance, fans used to cool the system might not be possible in a factory setting, since fans entail moving parts and can spread dust that might shut a system down. A rugged fanless PC not only reduces the number of moving parts by cooling the system through heat sinks and similar processes, but allows for a sealed system that can better repel contaminants.

In particular, look for industrial mini PCs with IP64 certification or higher: tested against dust and resistant to splashed liquids. Depending upon the specifics of the business, an industrial-grade touch screen may be in order too: allowing human supervisors to quickly interface with the system and make adjustments as necessary. Resistive screens, which react to pressure rather than the bioelectrical pulses of the human body, can be used while wearing gloves: another feature that may be absolutely necessary for a given factory setting.

Connectivity Options are a Must

Smart factories work because of the interconnectivity of their components. But the benefits extend into other areas. Interconnectivity allows different components within the factory to communicate with each other, as well as connecting different factories in different locations to work in conjunction together. Previous separate steps in the production process – design, planning, production, delivery and the like – can function cohesively, fully automated and working in conjunction with each other.

For example, smart cameras and other visual sensors can monitor the assembly line, which allow problems to be spotted early and corrected before they slow down production. Those, in turn, can be linked to human-machine interface (HMI) equipment on the production line instead of being routed back to some distant control room. That lets you address problems earlier in the process and respond swiftly when issues arise.

None of this works, however, unless the different machines in your factory can communicate with each other. WiFi range can be a problem in a sprawling manufacturing plant. Industrial computers can be customized to include 3G/4G LTE broadband connections, WiFi or even have multiple LAN ports to connect control panel PCs to both the internet and an intranet. Industrial tablets make an excellent option for smart factories as well. They can be carried from station to station, allowing managers to monitor production from anywhere while staying connected to every aspect of the operation.

RFID Tech Improving Quality Control

Quality control is of paramount importance in any industrial setting, and remains one of the most vital issues a smart factory setting needs to address. Automated quality control can be problematic without the right equipment, costing a great deal in lost production and time. Industrial computers with the proper components can be used to streamline the process and prevent any issue related to quality control from cropping up.

For example, say a smart factory is manufacturing automobiles, which may have specific and unique components added during production. RFID (radio frequency identification) technology can be placed at a specific station to ID vehicles moving on the production line, then determine which features and components need to be added to them. A barcode scanner can be used to check the parts before they are put in, and touchscreen technology allows workers to monitor and access the correct information. Systems with integrated features such as these can stand up to the conditions in such a setting while allowing for sterling quality control.

If your operation has a smart factory or you’re studying the potential of setting up such an operation, Cybernet has a line of industrial computers that are certified and tested for such environments. Contact us today to find out more.

What Makes Medical-Grade Monitors Different from Commercial Monitors?

Computer monitors have become an integral part of our lives, not only at home and work, but in every facet of society today. You see them at the grocery store checkout line when the clerks scan your food, at the gas station pumps when you fill your tank, and even at parking kiosks to scan your ticket when you go out for the evening. We’re surrounded by screens and monitors, and that saturation extends into the medical field as well.

Hospitals and similar care providers use computers as a matter of course, and that means medical-grade monitors to provide display screens for PCs. They’re ubiquitous in most healthcare facilities — one to a bed in many cases, plus additional units in operating rooms, nurse’s stations, and the like — and with the advent of electronic medical records (EMR) and similar software, they’re becoming more important than ever. Modern facilities absolutely depend on them for relaying important information to healthcare providers and coordinating efforts throughout often complex organizations.

Yet medical facilities have different needs than commercial endeavors, and a simple out-of-the box monitor won’t be able to meet them properly. There are some distinct differences that medical LCD monitors offer that set them apart, and help ensure that a given hospital or similar facility operates at maximum efficiency.

Specific Imaging Needs for a Medical Environment

Imaging information is vital to medical care. Common procedures often require detailed imaging for things like X-rays and endoscopies, allowing doctors to make an accurate assessment of the patient’s condition and offer an informed diagnosis. A commercial-grade 4K monitor can usually provide such accuracy, but hospitals and medical facilities often require more than just sharp images, and a commercial monitor simply can’t account for such needs.

For instance, operating rooms have overhead lights that can create severe glare and limit a physicians’ ability to see the information they need on the screen. That can be devastating in circumstances where time is a factor or where hands might not be free to make the needed adjustments to the screen position. A medical-grade monitor can correct that issue with anti-glare and anti-reflective properties, which allow you to perceive the screen accurately without having to deal with glare from nearby lights.

Furthermore, medical staff don’t always have the luxury of privacy when viewing on-screen records. Information and diagnoses sometimes need to be made in places where sensitive information can easily be viewed by people without the proper credentials, such as when a doctor or nurse accesses a monitor mounted near a patient’s bed. The patient — or even visiting friends and relatives — can inadvertently get a look at private files in such circumstances. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) can levy large fines for breaches in privacy, even when they are inadvertent.

Here, too, a good medical monitor can provide vital assistance. A privacy filter can be embedded directly into the device, which effectively “blacks out” the information for those looking at the screen from an angle (in other words, anyone expect the person directly using the medical computer). That allows doctors and nurses to examine whatever records they need wherever they need them, without worrying about the wrong set of eyes gaining a side glance.

Medical Monitors are Safe and Hygienic

The number-one concern for any piece of hardware in a hospital setting is whether it’s safe for use around patients. That means that it doesn’t emit radiation or similarly harmful energy, which can affect not only the patient’s health but the operation of other key pieces of equipment too. For example, X-ray machines need to be certified so that they don’t emit harmful radiation that could harm patients or staff members. Medical monitors need to be subject to the same standards. UL/IEC 60601-1 certification (or the European equivalent, EN 60601-1) means that the monitor is safe for near-patient use and won’t disrupt other medical equipment while it works.

Furthermore, germs and bacteria can spread as staff members handle the screen and adjust the controls. Nosocomial infections — those created in and spreading through medical facilities — are an important concern for any healthcare organizations. Yet cleaning monitors of any sort can be tricky, since liquid can quickly turn the unit into a large paperweight. That causes problems if you need to use a liquid cleanser to disinfect the surface. Ideally, any monitor you use will be IP65 certified, which means it’s protected against liquids and can be properly cleaned without damaging it. In addition, look for units with an anti-microbial housing, which repels germs and keeps the hardware clean in a hospital setting.

Touchscreen Technology Make LCD Monitors Easy to Use

The growing use of EMRs and similar software means that more and more more data can be summoned and cross-referenced directly on the screen. Medical professionals need to be able to access such information quickly, and touchscreen technology allows users to control the data simply by swiping their fingers across it.

More specifically, touchscreens can eliminate the need for keyboards and mouse controls, which means a less cluttered work space and a reduction in cumbersome (and sometimes even dangerous) cables. It also means fewer devices for IT to maintain as well as fewer devices that can spread germs. That can be invaluable in busy hospital settings, especially with medical cart computers and workstations on wheels, which benefit from a reduction in cable clutter. In addition, screens that use PCAP (projected capacitive) technology can be used with surgical gloves without issue. PCAP technology also allows for pinch-zooming and two-finger swiping, letting you access the information you need without a lot of awkward fumbling.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers dedicated medical-grade monitors to go along with their line of hospital computers. If you’re in the market, contact us today for more information!

medical computer certification

Understanding Life Cycle vs MTBF in Medical Computers and Why Both Matter

For fields like the healthcare industry, specialized all-in-one computers provide a number of important benefits that traditional commercial systems don’t. Medical grade computers must perform specific and sometimes highly specialized tasks in an extremely stressful environment. When purchasing such a system, you need to be certain that it’s up for the job.

A computer is an investment, and the rate of return on that investment isn’t always obvious when you first purchase it. Canny organizations need to look carefully at a product’s life cycle and determine if it will stand the test of time. They should also weigh the benefits of longevity (which isn’t quite the same as life cycle) and understand exactly how that makes for a better return on investment (ROI). In order to maximize both the life cycle and the longevity of your system, you need to go beyond commercial-grade PC solutions and quick-fix purchases.

What Is a Product Life Cycle?

When referring to the life cycle of a medical computer, a manufacturer is talking about how long a particular product will remain in production. Anyone who’s gone out to their local Best Buy to get a new laptop knows that a newer model is typically on the shelf within a few months. When it comes to computers to be used in healthcare, there are a lot of advantages to choosing a manufacturer with a long product life-cycle. 

EMR software, for instance, takes a lot of time and effort to properly implement. Records need to be integrated, proper procedures need to be developed, and networks over multiple locations need to be properly synchronized to use the software properly. An EMR implementation can take several months to a year or longer. Medical device manufacturers face a different but equally time consuming challenge when it comes to getting their devices certified. That process can take several months, and any changes to hardware could result in the need to get the device re-certified.  

A medical PC with a long life cycle makes these processes much easier. Any IT manager will tell you how difficult it is to do a software implementation across a uniform set of devices. Any bugs or obstacles to the process increase exponentially when you start trying to do that same implementation across multiple manufacturers and models of computers. Or imagine you are a medical device manufacturer ready to go to market only to find out that you have to redesign your entire unit because the computer you built your device around moved that vital USB port from the right side to the left side. A computer with a long life cycle, however, won’t run into those issues, allowing the certification and implementation process to take place without a hitch. That in turn helps maintain your network’s overall functionality and ensure the most value for your money.

MTBF (More than Just an Acronym)

Most commercial and home PCs are designed to be turned off at the end of the workday, or when their users are doing other things. In hospitals and similar medical institutions, however, “after hours” simply doesn’t exist. Most healthcare facilities need devices that will function 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for years in many cases. A medical cart computer, for example, is likely to be left on all day long as the day shift transitions to the night shift and back. The same is true with computers that are being used as a patient monitoring device. 

Inexpensive consumer models likely have a much lower mean time between failures (MTBF) than a dedicated, high-end medical computers, meaning these computers are likely to break down much more quickly. The reason for this is that medical grade computers use industrial grade components and feature less moving parts. Fewer moving parts means fewer things that can break. A fanless medical computer, for instance, has one less point of failure, since there is no fan apparatus to generate friction and break down. Using SSD drives — which similarly feature no moving parts — is another way to increase MTBF. That’s one of the reasons why the up-front cost of a medical-grade computer is higher, but it’s also why you get a greater ROI because there are fewer hardware failures and units don’t need to be replaced as often.

 

Address IT Concerns Before Purchasing

Life cycle and longevity issues can fall quite heavily on the IT department. Computers with a long life cycle invariably benefit IT concerns by reducing the number of different models they need to work on. As we noted earlier, computers with short life cycles will need replacing or upgrading more often, which can easily lead to multiple different types of computers operating in the same organization. If you have to buy a new computer every six months, that can lead to multiple vendors, multiple systems and multiple points of support, which complicates IT’s lives considerably.

A system with a long life cycle, on the other hand, means you likely need to rely on only one model. That means a single point of support when there are problems, so your IT team only needs to make one phone call instead of four or five. This all but eliminates finger pointing, which is one of the greatest hindrances to troubleshooting most IT problems. 

Similarly, a system with a high MTBF means that your team won’t have to deal with “break-fix” incidents very often. Computers with short life cycles tend to break down more often, making IT little more than an in-house repair service most of the time. A more reliable system with a longer life, on the other hand, allows them to focus on other pressing matters such as upgrades and revenue generating products, instead of dealing with repair issues that require immediate attention.

 

The medical grade all-in-one computers from Cybernet provide tremendous ROI for their entire life cycle, ensuring that your organization can keep the focus on your patients instead of the tools used to care for them. Contact us here to learn more about what we offer.

4 Ways Workstations on Wheels Improve Hospital Care

They’re called workstations on wheels, or WOWs: mobile medical carts, either powered or non-powered, that allow nurses and other personnel to move from bedside to bedside with medical computer systems in tow. They’re rapidly becoming a staple in healthcare operations of all varieties, part of a larger wave of technological innovation that is revolutionizing the way we treat the sick and injured.

WoWs are designed not only to enhance the efficiency of hospital staff, but to provide better care for patients and improve the overall treatment experience. They come with a variety of designs and features, but all of them should have the same basic goals in mind: saving your staff time and energy, and letting them focus on patient care. Here’s a quick list of 4 ways a good medical equipment cart can do that.

Patient Charting with a Computer on Wheels

Paperwork is the bane of most hospital staff members and patient charting can be an extremely time-consuming process. A recent study by the National Institute of Health maintained that nurses spend an average of two hours a day on charting and similar record-keeping duties. Paper charts need to organize and unify a great deal of information, which makes them extremely vulnerable to human error. Ideally, charting should take place very quickly after visiting the patient: within an hour or so. The more time that goes by, the easier it is to make mistakes and the more likely those mistakes will have an impact on other aspects of your operation.

Electronic medical records (EMR) provide a theoretical solution to the problem, but they need to be accessed by a computer station, which isn’t always possible when making the rounds. It’s not uncommon for a nurse to do her rounds and then chart everything into the EMR at the nurses station, which is inefficient and takes time away from patient care. A medical cart computer solves that issue by allowing healthcare provider to simply bring the computer with them. It also permits the staff to use barcode scanners on patient wristbands and similar forms of ID. That, in turn, provides swift and accurate information while allowing your staff to do patient charting as they go instead of having to wait for long periods of time before documenting the information properly.

Making Medical Devices Mobile

There are often times when a patient is too sick to comfortably move to other departments of the hospital, or a doctor might order heart or respiratory monitoring tests that can easily be performed bedside. It is important that the medical devices entrusted to perform these tests can be brought into the patient room without the need to plug things in, connect to monitors or clutter what is typically an already small space. 

Medical carts are often used in conjunction with medical devices for exactly this reason. A lightweight powered cart will often be used to power a medical device like an ultrasound machine or respiratory monitor, plus the medical computer that runs the device. The maneuverability of these carts make it easy for a technician to take the device to the patient, rather than the other way around, which can drastically improve patient care and get tests run faster and more efficiently. 

 

Secure, Accurate Medication Dispensing

Proper handling and dispensation of medication is one of the most important parts of hospital care: ensuring that each patient gets the medicine they need in the required dose at the right time. That relies on the hospital staff keeping accurate track of all the medication through the entire process, including recording the dosage in the patient’s chart once it’s taken.

A medication dispensing cart with locking drawers can help improve this process, while ensuring accuracy and security. Each patient is assigned a drawer with the precise medication needs. The drawers are locked and coded to the patient’s ID badge or wristband. A bar code scanner or similar device can be used to scan the patient’s ID when the caregiver arrives at their bedside, and unlock the pertinent drawer containing the meds. That ensures that there are no mistakes in this all-important aspect of patient care, and that the dosage and time of dosing can be quickly entered into the patient’s records with the cart’s computer.

Medical Carts can Improve the Patient Experience

Anyone who has spent any time in the hospital knows that the cafeteria food won’t win any culinary awards. But what is worse than the food is getting the wrong order or a tray of food you can’t eat, leading to having to wait even longer for a meal. Though less dire than dispensing the wrong medication, a patients dietary needs pose their own health challenges. Some patients have dietary restrictions based on their treatment; others may have previously existing conditions such as a dairy allergy, or require a kosher meal because of their religion. A lot of hospitals still use paper menus that the patient fills out, and are then collected. This poses a number of problems. The wrong menu might get distributed to a patient, or the patient selects an item that they can’t eat due to doctor orders or allergies. An order could get lost or misplaced, leading to a patient not getting fed, or having to wait for the error to be discovered and corrected. 

WoWs can address that the same way they address medication. A barcode scanner connected to the medical computer can scan the patient’s ID to check for specialty diets or anything that might present a problem, ensuring that there are no mistakes. Staff members can select the food the patient wants from the available options, skipping the need for hand-written orders and streamlining the entire process as a result.

Cybernet Manufacturing offers a wide variety of turnkey medical cart solutions that can be paired with any of our medical grade computers. To find a solution that meets your needs and your budget, contact our team today!

medical grade PCs

4 Things Medical Device Manufacturers Should Look for in a Tablet

Medical device manufacturers create a variety of tools and instruments that make vital procedures possible: anything from endoscopes to X-ray machines. In many cases, a tablet is required to act in conjunction with their device, serving as the means of control the device, capture data or display video feeds.

That usually requires hardware beyond just an out-of-the-box commercial grade tablet, which often lacks the features necessary to work with medical devices. Medical grade tablets provide a much better option for manufacturers interested in smooth integration and optimal performance. It is important to understand what features differentiate a medical tablet from a commercial grade tablet, and why those features matter. Here are four things to look for when deciding on the best tablet.

Medical Certifications

Medical devices must work in close proximity to patients. Many need to function in an OR environment, with a number of different devices all functioning at one time, and in the case of some devices (such as an endoscope), they must be inserted directly into the patient’s body. Imagine if an integrated tablet has a power surge while a medical device was inserted in a patient, or if the electromagnetic discharge of that device interfered with something like a heart monitor. The results could be catastrophic.

The right medical tablet PC will carry the proper certifications to avoid such issues. More specifically, they will be IEC/UL 60601-1 certified for near-patient use, allowing the tablet to work in conjunction with your device. That means it won’t create problems during a sensitive operation requiring multiple pieces of machinery and can be used safely with bedside devices such as mechanical ventilators.

Also look for IP65 certification, indicating that the tablet is protected from exposure to liquid. That allows it to be cleaned properly without disrupting its functionality: keeping it sterile as easily as the medical device to which it is attached, and eliminating any potential health risk to the patient. It also means that it can function safely in an operating room or similar environment, where liquids like saline solutions are common and can create problems for tablets without such protection.

Processing Power

Medical devices can oftentimes require an embedded device with a lot of processing power. Depending upon the device they are linked to, their duties can include running software applications swiftly and efficiently, providing video capture features for clear and accurate images of the patient’s condition, and allowing swift access to associated electronic medical records (EMRs) for comparison purposes. An underpowered tablet or one designed for personal use simply won’t be able to hold up under the strain.

Medical tablet computers, on the other hand, have the ability to meet those tough demands. Depending on the application, a device manufacturer might need to find a tablet with a powerful processor, expandable RAM or even a large hard drive (as much as 128 GB) to provide instant video feedback, run multiple applications at the same time or store multiple images or videos.

Customizability

Different devices have different ports, and not all of them can connect to your average out-of-the-box tablet. Basic interface between a tablet and a medical device can quickly dissolve into a nightmare of crossover cables and adapters… and in some cases may not be able to connect to your device at all.

The answer lies in customization: the ability to integrate any port required in the tablet’s design. Not only does that ensure that the port connections are exactly what your product needs, but if you ever need to change the ports or add new ones onto your design, you can still rely on the same tablet to meet those changing needs. (Customization also provides ports for legacy devices and similar equipment that may still be working perfectly well but lack an updated connection to connect to more modern machines. That in turn, helps improve your product’s longevity and utility over time.)

Product Longevity

Speaking of longevity, you may have noticed how often electronics manufacturers are coming out with new models. Technology advances in leaps and bounds, and commercial-grade tablets thrive on releasing new models on a regular basis. It makes sense from a business perspective – witness the infamous long lines at Apple stores whenever a new iPad is released – but it simply won’t do when it comes to medical devices. Every time new hardware shows up, your device needs to be re-certified, re-tested and often upgraded. And if that USB connection port moves from the right side to the left side, that might mean needing to redesign an entire device just to accommodate a small change in the embedded tablet design. This can be extremely time consuming and costly for a device manufacturer. By the time a device is certified, the commercial grade tablet they’ve selected might not even be available anymore.

A medical tablet built for a long lifecycle, on the other hand, eliminates the problems of frequent upgrades. That means less time spent on integrating new systems, re-certification and similar steps. Look for tablets with 3-5 year lifecycles, as well as quality warranties, customer phone support and similar features.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing produces a line of medically certified medical tablets that meet the high demands of medical device manufacturers. If you need tablets with the right features to work alongside your devices, contact us today to hear more.

surgical monitors and medical computer system

How to Prevent HIPAA Violations with a Secure Medical Computer System

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was implemented in 1996, and set strict standards for properly securing medical records. The internet was only beginning to become a force in the world when HIPAA went into effect, and its creators could not have imagined the kinds of security threats modern medical computer systems would face. Sadly the burden of upholding its protocols can fall quite heavily on hospitals and similar care providers.

It’s a serious issue. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there have been over 182,000 reported violations of HIPAA policy from April, 2003 to May, 2018: costing individual hospitals millions of dollars in many cases. With electronic medical records (EMR) now the norm in most organizations, the potential for security breaches has never been higher. Illegally acquired medical records are a hot item on the black market – even more than credit card numbers – making it vital to keep such records secure.  And HIPAA violations needn’t be so cloak-and-dagger. Anything from outdated systems to a simple bit of gossip about a patient’s medical status can lead to expensive violations.

Many potential HIPAA violations can be anticipated and prevented by implementing common-sense practices in your organization. Your medical computers themselves play a huge role in helping you stay secure, and with a little foresight, they can keep you firmly on top of the issue. Here are a few suggestions on how best to do that.

BYOD vs. Medical Grade Tablets

A lost or stolen device can be devastating, but the potential for trouble can extend beyond that. For example, many medical organizations have Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, allowing personnel to use tablets and phones from home. On the surface, it seems like an effective cost-saving measure that overcomes many roadblocks. But it comes at a great price to the security of EMRs, and a single BYOD can undo the security of an entire system.

A dedicated set of medical grade tablets can easily circumvent the need for personnel to bring their own devices. These devices are set up and controlled by a facilities dedicated IT team, making them much more secure that personal devices. Tablets can also include security measures such as biometric fingerprint scanners and CAC readers to keep your system secure (as well as ancillary benefits that BYODs can’t offer, such as anti-microbial housings and IP65-certified front bezels to prevent the spread of infection). Not only does that eliminate the security concerns of a BYOD, but medical tablets are specifically designed for healthcare applications and often have a much more robust feature set.

Assuring Proper Security Access

Hospitals are busy places, and personnel often need to access medical PCs quickly. Lives could literally depend on it. But proper security measures can sometimes slow that down, and cutting corners to alleviate the delay can place those records at undue risk. Medical cart computers, and similar portable devices are often left in hallways unattended where individuals can simply walk off with them, and computers in patients’ rooms can’t be monitored 24/7. That puts administrators in an awkward position balancing the immediate needs of day-to-day operations with ongoing concerns over protecting sensitive data.

Limit access to your system to those with the proper credentials by using built-in security measures such as Imprivata’s SSO certified computers. It can create security profiles without coding – eliminating the need for complex and confusing passwords – and allow your staff access to needed records quickly without compromising security. Something as simple as an embedded privacy filter on the screen of an all-in-one computer can go a long way towards preventing someone from stealing patient with a camera or a glance at a record that is up on the screen.

Combating Cyber Attacks

Speaking of security measures, hacking remains a significant problem for medical systems, as does the use of malware and other cybernetic weapons. According to Verizon, over 70% of malware attacks involve ransomware, which encrypts your data and requires a fee or ransom to regain access. A recent ransomware attack against LabCorp demonstrates just how real and how devastating such methods can be.

With increased need for interoperability and more and more information being placed in electronic formats, the danger on this front is only likely to grow. Regular risk analysis and upgrades play a large role here. New software and enhanced technology are released every day, and sadly, the tactics of hackers and similar cybersecurity threats are constantly changing and upgrading as well.

While the right medical computer won’t eliminate all risk, it can go a long way towards mitigating your vulnerability. Multiple LAN ports can provide you with access to both the internet and an intranet. Intranets are typically much more difficult to hack from the outside, making patient data more secure. Intel wireless cards paired with vPro processors will also add an additional layer of security to any hardware deployment.

 

HIPAA regulations are in place to protect patients, and no hospital wants to compromise the privacy and trust of those in their care.Many potential HIPAA violations can be anticipated and prevented by implementing common-sense practices in your organization. That said, medical services have patients to care for and facilities to maintain. Training and accounting for HIPAA requirements might constitute one task too many for a staff that has plenty to do as it is. You need to use any advantage you can – especially with your computer system – to alleviate the burden of HIPAA compliance on your team members. For more information on how Cybernet’s medical grade computers can help you stay HIPAA compliant you can contact us here.

industrial tablet

4 Ways to Improve Inventory Management with an Industrial Tablet

Inventory management – checking the amount of product on hand, its location and its status in the shipping process – ranks as one of the most important aspects of any business. It allows you to minimize expensive bookkeeping errors and maintain a firm hand on potential assets.

Checking inventory means balancing speed and accuracy, which are often at odds with each other. The faster you work, the easier it is to make mistakes. Yet the more time you spend on a task, the less time you have for other (often equally important) aspects of the job. Achieving that balance isn’t easy with a warehouse full of product to be catalogued, checked and shipped.

The ideal solution is an industrial tablet with an integrated barcode scanner built in. Here are four benefits to using such a device, and the ways it can improve your bottom line.

Industrial Tablets Aid Inventory Audits

Manual inventory counts can be time consuming, as your workers count each piece of product and carefully log the pertinent data. A manual count can halt productivity, or even force you to pay employees overtime to come in on weekends to perform an audit. This isn’t just time consuming, it is expensive. And it doesn’t guarantee accuracy either. A manual count also mean manual data entry, which lends itself to inaccurate counts being entered into your ERP system.

A Windows tablet equipped with a barcode scanner eliminates the unnecessary time without skimping on accuracy. When an industrial tablet is incorporate throughout all process, inventory is electronically tracked from materials receiving, through production and even when you ship product to your customers. The records are much more accurate, and are automatically synced to your ERP software, eliminating the need for periodic manual inventory counts.

Tablets Reduce Errors

Industrial tablets can’t entirely eliminate human error, but they can drastically reduce it by streamlining the process and automatically noting discrepancies. Imagine a scenario in which an employee records you have 50 units of a particular item in stock rather than 500. It’s a single digit, but it can trigger a chain reaction of costly reactions. Purchasing might see the inventory levels are low and unnecessarily purchase more units. Once those units arrive, it quickly becomes apparent that there isn’t space in the warehouse to store everything, which can lead to additional expenses.

A tablet can also better facilitate first in first out (FIFO) policies, which ensure that the first goods purchased are the first ones sold and moved. This is particularly important with perishable goods such as foodstuffs, making sure you ship the oldest products first and avoid losing them to decay.

The ability to instantly scan product the moment it enters the warehouse means you start with a very accurate inventory, and further scans as product is moved or shipped out can keep that count accurate. It also helps keep track of what inventory needs to be used first, saving on waste.

Mitigate Recall Costs with BIN and Lot Tracking

Accurate assessment of your inventory often reverberates across all aspects of your business, especially when it involves things like recalls of tainted or damaged products. For instance, food distributors often use BIN numbers and lot numbers to track specific parcels of food. In the event that food develops a problem such as a virus or contaminant, it’s imperative to isolate which parcels are affected and remove them from circulation.

An operation without an accurate means of identifying the tainted parcels via BIN and Lot control may have to recall an entire product line: costing a huge amount of money. Tablets with barcode scanners, on the other hand allow you to exercise very tight BIN and Lot control.

For example, if a batch of tainted lettuce is detected, tight BIN and Lot tracking can help avert disaster. When a tablet is used to scan product from the field to the shipping dock, which can allow you to identify which batches in your warehouse came from that field, where they might be located in your storage facility, where those packages were shipped to, and perhaps even provide a specific window of time when they may have been picked. That in turn, lets you isolate and separate the tainted product from the untainted product quickly… which limits the damage and can lead to a much smaller recall.

Industrial Tablets Improve Customer Service

The old saying still holds true: the customer is always right. They usually want very specific things in very specific amounts at very specific times, which means you need to be able to check your stock for their requested product quickly and gather it accurately for shipping. That can be difficult when you’re relying on human memory or inaccurate records.

For example, say a customer sends in an order of several specific products. Under a manual system, the order is printed out, a worker goes through the list, the indicated items are located, and the worker then brings them from storage to shipping to be boxed up and shipped out. This can easily lead to errors if the worker selects the wrong items – resulting in irate customers and a lot of extra effort – while double- and triple-checking each order for accuracy slows the process down considerably. Furthermore, such tasks can involve a lot of time tracking down specific products in the warehouse, especially if the worker has to operate on memory.

A tablet, on the other hand, provides a more accurate assessment of where the products in question are located, and can be used to verify that the customer’s order matches the product being shipped. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags used in conjunction with barcode scanners are an excellent way to swiftly scan and pinpoint key inventory items for your customers. RFID allows you to identify products at greater ranges (up to 30 feet), which can focus your attention in the right general location in the warehouse. The barcode scanner can then be used to zero in on the required product quickly and confirm that they match what’s listed in the order.

 

The benefits of a rugged tablet PC with an integrated barcode scanner can be immeasurable when it comes to your company’s success. For more information on how Cybernet can help you streamline your processes and help you save money, contact us here.

surgical monitors and patient engagement

EHR Software: Benefits and Challenges for Medical Grade Computers

The rapid expansion of technological innovation has been keenly felt in the medical field. Healthcare providers now enjoy the benefits of new surgical tools, dedicated medical PCs, and high-end devices that make diagnosing and treating patients much more effective.

This trend goes well beyond hardware. Electronic health records (EHR) have rapidly become a staple of the industry, and use of EHR software has jumped exponentially in just a short amount of time. Estimates by the Office of the National Coordinator for health information technology (ONC) maintain that over 98% of large hospitals and over 96% of critical access facilities used EHR software by 2015. The future is here, and anyone working in the medical profession needs to be familiar with EHR software in order to do their jobs.

The benefits of EHR are considerable, not only for doctors and other medical personnel, but for the patients they treat. EHRs also entail a number of problems, however, both with the software itself and with the way it is implemented in existing medical computers. Overcoming those problems is key to achieving the enormous potential of EHR software.

The Benefits of EHR

Using EHR contains a nearly limitless array of potential benefits, grouped into a few specific categories:

More Effective Care:

EHR software allows patient data to be transmitted instantly to the point of care, regardless of location or complexity of the data. According to studies by the ONC, 94% of healthcare providers reported that EHR made it easier to access records at point of care. That, in turn, increases the speed with which physicians can diagnose and treat conditions – literally saving lives in some cases. In addition, such access allows for comprehensive analysis of the patient’s condition, and can automatically flag things like conflicting medication prescriptions and earlier medical procedures that may complicate the treatment currently being considered. Of course, this is only possible with a medical computer that possesses to processing power and connectivity necessary to run the EMR software properly.

Elimination of Paper Records:

Paper records were essential to the medical field for many years, but they also created a host of issues which can’t be readily eliminated. Physical files are bulky and take up a lot of space, which most hospitals could better use on other things. Clerical errors are common, which can lead to inaccurate records and misdiagnoses, as well as billing mistakes.

Other factors such as bad handwriting can cause even more problems – to say nothing of money spent on paper and ink, which can add up to a surprising amount – and even if a given record is 100% accurate, accessing it can be a supremely difficult prospect. EHRs cut that Gordian knot by providing clarity and accuracy in the files, as well as eliminating the need to store all of that paperwork.

Improved Communications Between Physicians:

Patients are rarely under the care of a single physician or even a single healthcare facility. Consultations can involve other physicians in different locations, sometimes on the other side of the country.  Medical labs and specialty care facilities must be consulted, and in many cases, even a simple prescription requires communication between the physician and the pharmacy.

That can lead to confusion, long delays and even errors in medication. EHR software used in conjunction with the right medical-grade computer can eliminate those errors, and improve communication between physicians. Indeed, one recent survey from the National Institute of Health estimates that processing a prescription drug order through an EHR system reduced the frequency of errors by 47%. That kind of improved speed and accuracy cannot help but benefit patients.

Outpatient care, empowering home caregivers:

Not all healthcare is administered at a hospital or other medical facility. Quite often, patients are discharged where they receive continued outpatient care from home. Home caregivers can use a modern medical tablet to access patient files, record vital signs, and even check to see if medications are being taken according to the doctor’s orders. All of this can be recorded in real time and updated in the EHR record making patient care more efficient and more accurate, freeing up valuable resources.

Potential Problems

Those benefits have the ability to permanently change the way a given organization provides medical services. As with any new system, however, issues are bound to crop up: creating frustration in healthcare workers and blunting the advantages that an EHR can provide. Such problems can include the following:

Interoperability:

In order for EHR software to work, it needs to link different systems together. Information in one facility’s computers can’t always be ported to another’s. Medical monitors with a 4:3 ratio won’t be able to properly read software designed for a 16:9 ratio, and authentication and security measures in a given system can make accessing the proper data a monumental chore.

A certified medical computer is essential in this regard: providing interoperability for the EHR software to function as intended and ensuring that the staff can access the records swiftly.

Extended time involved:

Learning curves for EHR software can be steep, which means physicians need to spend a lot of time working with it instead of treating their patients. A recent study from the Annals of Family Medicine estimated that physicians spend almost 2 hours of time on EHR for every hour they spend with patients.

Charting at a patient’s bedside using a medical cart computer can help cut down on additional time spent doing administrative work, allowing physicians more time with patients and less time doing data entry.

Financial barriers:

Medical facilities must use their financial resources wisely. Integrating medical computer systems with new EHR software can be expensive and time-consuming – even a small practice can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for it, according to the National Institute of Health – which can lead to staggered or delayed implementation and a lot of confusion.

Certified medical hardware can be a lifesaver, especially computers with a long lifecycle to help you avoid constant upgrades and changes to your IT network.

 

With the right system in place, the functionality of EHR software can be enhanced and common problems can be minimized or even eliminated. Cybernet’s line of medical computers includes a number EHR certified models and can streamline the process of integrating and using EHR software in your facility. Contact us here to learn more!

5 Ways Hospitals Are Using Medical Computer Systems

Just a few years ago, hospitals and similar medical facilities lagged behind other industries when it came to effective use of computers. But government regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and Medicare/Medicaid information systems established an enhanced need for proper medical computer systems, while improved technology made such systems more affordable and easier to use.

Today, hospitals all over the country are taking advantage of dedicated systems to improve response time and focus more on patients. As time goes on, a quality medical computer is only going to become more and more vital to effective care. Here’s a look at 5 key areas where modern hospitals are using such systems to maximum advantage.

EHR Software Runs Best on Compliant Medical Computers

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for health information technology (ONC), by 2016, over 98 percent of all hospitals and over 97 percent of critical access and small rural hospitals used some manner of EHR (Electronic Health Records) software, which allows health files to be shared more readily and eliminates the need for cumbersome paper records. But simply implementing such a system isn’t enough.

Hospitals need computers capable of running EHR software smoothly, as well as exhibiting features that allow staff to access the materials they need with a minimum of fuss. That includes components like display size, which allow the software to be run correctly, and single sign-on security measures to protect patient confidentiality.

It’s no small matter. A recent study from JAMA Internal Medicine found that over 44% of surveyed physicians spent excessive time filling out EMR records at home: a serious drain on energy and emotional reserves. The right medical computer allows the software to perform as intended, giving staff ready access to the information they need without causing frustration or compromising EHR security.

Medical Cart Computers Make Rounds more Efficient

Medical carts, also known as workstations on wheels, allow hospital staff to move their computer from patient to patient and location to location as needed. It can be tempting to use powered carts, which provide battery life for computers, barcode scanners and similar equipment. They also allow for automated medication distribution, which lowers the chances of administering the wrong medication. But powered carts can also be expensive, and the additional weight can make them more difficult to maneuver through hospital corridors. They might be right for some situations, but budget-minded administrators often look for more cost-sensible solutions.

Medical cart computers with hot swappable batteries can operate with non-powered carts to create an efficient workstation on wheels. Hot swappable batteries that run low on power can be switched out for fresh batteries without having to shut the machine off, providing 24/7 up-time and allowing staff to use lighter non-powered carts without being tethered to a wall outlet.

Mobile Charting with Medical Grade Tablets

Even with a lighter weight non-powered medical cart, sometimes wheeling a large device from room to room isn’t the best way for a healthcare practitioner to perform their rounds. In some cases, having a dedicated computer in every patient room isn’t a possibility for facilities with tighter budget constraints. Mobility and budget can both be two major hurdles that healthcare IT professionals must contend with.

Medical tablets provide a solution for both problems. A lot of hospitals are turning to these mobile medical devices as an alternative to medical carts. Nurses and physicians can walk into a patient room or exam room with a medical grade tablet and do their charting on the go. A medical tablet with a barcode scanner takes functionality to the next level, allowing the end user to scan patient ID bracelets, IV bags or other medication bottles to ensure that a patient is receiving the right medication.

Improving Patient Safety in Operating Rooms

Any kind of equipment that enters the operating room needs to adhere to strict requirements. For example, the operating theater needs to be free of potential contamination, such as dust which can be spread by a computer’s cooling fan. Furthermore, electromagnetic signals, radiation and similar emissions can present a hazard to the patient, which rules out the wrong type of computer. For example, an anesthesiologist with a computer that isn’t medically certified may need to sit outside the operating room to monitor the patient, or else use paper records (and increase the risk of bookkeeping mistakes accordingly).

A fanless medical computer can address those problems quickly and effectively, utilizing advanced passive cooling technology to ensure the sterility of the space. IP65 certification ensures that the system can be cleaned and disinfected without damaging the components, while UL60601-1 certification allows the system to be used in close proximity to a patient with no danger. That makes for a smoother and more efficient operating room, and an attendant improvement to the quality of care.

Increasing Patient Satisfaction and Engagement

Studies cited by the ONC stress the importance of patient engagement and how useful health IT can be in enhancing their overall satisfaction with the experience. No one wants to spend time in a hospital, and patients can easily be left feeling isolated and helpless just when they need energy and resolve. Cell phone use is often restricted – since noisy ringtones and MP3s can distract staff members from their work, and signals from the phone can disrupt important devices – which limits contact with family and friends.

Similarly, basic questions about the patient’s condition must sometimes wait all day until a doctor or nurse arrives on rounds, increasing anxiety and forcing the patient to wonder about comparatively simple questions. Depending on the circumstances, even basic functions like turning on a television may require a nurse or staff member, all of which can have a drastic effect on the patient’s emotional health and well-being.

A medical computer, however, can provide a wealth of infotainment options, often from the same computer monitors that doctors and nurses use in the patient’s room. Patients can access information about their condition: putting their mind at ease and helping them better understand the treatment process. They can also access entertainment services like Netflix, and enjoy movies and television while they recuperate. Perhaps most importantly, built-in voice and video applications let them contact friends and family: putting them in touch with those best capable of providing emotional support.

The ultimate goal of any piece of medical equipment is to help hospital staff perform their duties faster and more effectively. Cybernet produces a line of high-end medical computers designed with just such efficiency in mind. For more information on how to put such technology to work for you, contact us here.