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tough tablets

3 Problems in Customer Service Solvable by Technology

The tech landscape has changed for the better in business. Places as common as grocery stores, bars, pizza parlors, online ordering warehouses, you name it—the computer is there, improving the business operations on a customer-by-customer basis. The newest technological craze on the horizon to improve the customer experience for online ordering is the use of the shipping drone. Automation efforts within warehouse shipping are pushing towards eventual shipping via individual drones that drop packages off at the doorstep of customers. Interested businesses in this cutting-edge technology are quoting waiting times of less than 30 minutes from product order to delivery!

We’re far off from seeing a full implementation of such technologies across the nation, but one aspect of a business that is never overlooked and that people cherish in any setting is customer service. The full umbrella of customer service can include customer experience, product pricing, waiting times for product delivery, and other factors, but the computer is there now to facilitate lengthy and error-prone processes that can influence the overall experience. Here are three ways technology solves problems many of us are familiar with when it comes to the umbrella of customer service.

Better Lead Times, Shorter Wait Times with Industrial PCs

Lead time can be considered a part of customer service, or perhaps “a service to the customer” since it’s a factor in the overall experience. It’s not the most interesting of business-related topics, but it’s one of the most desired metrics to shrink for both businesses and customers. Simply put, if a customer waits too long for delivery of an item, it’s not likely they’ll purchase from the same outlet. It’s an aspect of customer service in the whole of the corporation that is always a pain point for customers. Who likes to wait?

Lead times have been decreasing with the use of the industrial PC. Industrial computers running ERP software can track and monitor inventory levels. They can be used to predict seasonal shifts in order volume. A manufacturer can even use an HMI panel to monitor performance and maintenance schedules of individual equipment, reducing and eliminating stoppages in production. All of which adds up to short lead times. The shorter the lead time the more likely that first time customer will become a long term client.

I Didn’t Order This…

As soon as an order has been received there is a process in place to get that order to the customer as quickly as possible. An itemized invoice is printed that is handed off to a picker, who then goes through the warehouse to find the items. They are double checked, prepared for shipping and sent. But in that paper process, mistakes happen. Humans are only human after all. Send the wrong item to a customer not only adds up in costly returns at your expense, but could also lead to lost business.

Industrial tablets can help to automate this process and improve accuracy. Invoices can be stored on the tablet. With SKUs assigned to barcodes, a picker can use a tablet’s integrated barcode scanner to check items before pulling them from inventory. You can even assign different barcodes based on clothing sizes or item colors to ensure accuracy. Pick lists can even be sorted based on the most efficient path through the warehouse, meaning more orders can be processed in the same amount of time using the same amount of resources. Again, automating processes leads to more accurate orders and faster processing times, which lead to happier customers.

The Dreaded Phone Calls

Even with automation, mistakes will happen. No business is 100% perfect. When mistakes happen, customers will call in. Even in an automated shipping warehouse there needs to be the human touch to fill in the gaps sophisticated tech might leave behind. However, it’s best to be prepared with the right kind of computer to identify what went wrong in order processing.

If a company’s employees use all in one computers for their customer service department, there’s a vast set of advantages. First, these computers are manufactured with space-saving designs in mind so even in small offices where the majority of space is reserved for products, IT departments won’t need to go to the extensive trouble of planning how all computer stations might be configured. Second, they’re perfect for recording conference and customer calls for the best customer service experiences. Paired with telecommunications software, every call can be screened, addressed, and filed away for case study purposes. Finally, any customer service rep can use the computer to see where an order is in the full spectrum of the process, from order to customer satisfaction on delivery. These all in one computers have nifty touchscreen capabilities too, so it’ll add to the overall productivity of a customer service office. Plus, with their enclosed designs and higher-grade components, they’ll last a lot longer than the average computer.

They say that a customer who has had a bad experience is likely to tell 10 people about it, whereas a customer who has had a good experience is only likely to tell one or two people. Those aren’t the kind of odds worth testing. For more information on how to automate your processes you can contact us here.

medical grade computers and medical grade all in one

4 Questions to Ask When Searching for a New Medical Grade Computer

What is the difference between “healthcare grade” and “medical grade,” and what problems might arise if one is chosen over another? It seems like such a small thing. What’s in a word? A lot, when you break it down. The distinction between healthcare grade and medical grade computers is important, and here’s why: medical grade suggests a higher standard for a healthcare setting.

Computer systems that are marketed as medical grade are less problematic because they’re more feature-rich than healthcare grade. For instance, is a healthcare grade computer housed in an antimicrobial casing? Does this healthcare grade computer protect against infection, ingress, and the spread of disease? Has it been tested for radiation and electric emissions for near patient use? By the end of this blog, you will be equipped with the knowledge to know what questions you need to ask, and how to verify the validity of a vendor’s response.

The IEC60601-1 Certification – Get Tested

To be truly medical grade, a computer must meet IEC 60601-1 certification. More than just an alphanumerical string, IEC60601-1 is a necessary standard that protects the lives of patients. It details a number of separate sub-standards to protect patients from electric shock, radiation, machine interference (pinching), and other hazards. Some manufacturers may tout the expansive standard, but what they don’t reveal is their product meets only one sub-standard instead of the entire spectrum of standards within IEC60601-1. So if a corporation touts its new computer as IEC60601-1 compliant, be sure to investigate what that means.

True medical grade computers have certifications for the entire spectrum of standards for IEC60601-1 and you can easily verify the testing by asking a manufacturer for their certification. This isn’t a short document either. True 60601-1 certification documents are extensive. It’s also important to check the year of the standard—if a computer is certified for the IEC60601-1 standard that was defined several years ago, it may be best to find a product with a more recent certification.

Don’t be fooled by the term compliant vs. certified either. The most accepted definitions of these terms: compliance means the specifications of a product simply meet a standard. Certification means the product passed a set of rigorous, difficult tests and is a step above compliance, earning the tested product a certificate or label. The problem with compliance is that any corporation can self-claim their product is compliant with almost anything. Unless an independent 3rd party testing facility has verified that a computer meets all specifications it isn’t 60601-1 certified.

Fanless Designs, IP65, & Antimicrobial Technology

True medical grade computers not only meet rigorous standards but are feature-rich and better equipped to solve a wider range of problems that can arise in a hospital. Healthcare-Acquired Infections (HAIs) are still prevalent pests within hospital doors, and computers with more robust features perform better in terms of safety for everyone. Were you aware that HAIs can spread through a computer’s fan? Dust is more hazardous than we realize in hospitals and one lone dust fragment can turn infectious to any patient. Fanless medical computers are built to protect the patient (and staff!) by reducing airborne particle spread—something required for clean room operation.

Given the need for constant disinfection, IP65 ratings are also extremely important. Would you rather settle for a computer that protects from limited dust ingress and liquid sprays (IP54) or a computer that is protected against total dust ingress and more powerful liquid sprays (IP65)? Exposed bezels aren’t just breeding grounds for bacteria, but they can be ingress points for chemical disinfectants, which can lead to damage of internal components. Its important for a computer to have an IP65 rating, especially in a hospital setting, so units can be properly cleaned and disinfected.

Which brings us to antimicrobial technology. Some “healthcare edition” computers don’t even offer antimicrobial properties. The models that do aren’t all created equally. Because hospital disinfectants are so powerful, it isn’t uncommon for computers treated with an antimicrobial coating to degrade over time. In addition to cleaning a unit, these disinfectants can strip away the antimicrobial coating as well. You should look for a computer that has antimicrobial properties injected directly into the plastic molding and has been independently tested to maintain those properties over several thousand cleanings.

How Long of a Product Life Cycle?

What’s the life cycle of the computer in question? The best medical grade all in one systems on the market have a product cycle of 3 to 5 years—significantly longer than commercial-grade brand computers which average about 1.5 years. Project deployment for these systems can sometimes take years as hospital departments shed older computers and implement new ones over time. What if the purchased product isn’t available in that timespan? Will you be ready to face the potential pitfalls of mixing hardware within a computer project deployment?

We’ve heard of problems arising from mixing hardware in a deployment in the past. Even small configurations—changing a video card, altering the aspect ratio of a monitor, or even reducing the number of ports on a computer—can drastically change how mobile EMR software operates for the end-user. Differences in support, operating systems, and driver conflicts can sometimes be nasty roadblocks for interoperability if your hospital has a mixed project deployment. The best practices for a hospital are to purchase an identical set of computers for their entire project timeline, and that means ensuring the product life cycle is more extensive than the competition.

 

We hope these questions serve as a basis for understanding what’s on the market and how important it is to be armed with the knowledge necessary to ask the right questions. The best computers in a hospital setting are true medical grade all in one systems because of their superior features that safeguard the lives of a hospital’s entire population, whether patient or practitioner. Contact us to learn more.

medical computer and computer on wheels

3 Methods of Reducing HAIs in Hospitals

The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has seen a decline in HAIs (Healthcare-Acquired Illnesses) in the past recent years. For instance, invasive MRSA infections have seen a 36-percent reduction between 2009 and 2014 per the health.gov website. That’s the result of a combined effort of following the specific action plan available on the site. However, healthcare as a whole can always make stronger efforts to reduce HAI contraction frequency. There are many tech-related problems that still contribute to the number of HAIs (and related deaths) that can be fixed by ensuring your hospital technology meets the grade. Here’s how to combat them with the tech in your hospital.

Dust-Free is a Must

One of the contributing factors for HAIs is something we can’t see very well—dust. Dust is more dangerous than we think, but it’s important we unpack what that term means. A large percentage of dust consists of dormant, decaying, and live microscopic particles, often particles that can be hazardous to patients. A healthy individual’s immune system is capable of protecting against stray floating particles, but to hospital patients under surgery or with compromised immune systems, many precautions need to be taken. One single infected particle from the air settling inside of a patient with an open wound can turn a hospital visit into an infection that can spread to the masses.

Experts in the field stress that fanless medical computers are important for hospital use but are mandatory for surgical procedures and anesthesiology efforts. A fanless design is a proper feature on a medical computer that significantly reduces the risk of HAIs and airborne infections. A computer without a fan intake won’t liberally spread dust mites and bacteria through the air. Besides, fans are considered heavy failure points for computers. A fanless construction won’t perform the impossible by eliminating all dust, but it opens up more possibilities for medical practitioners—like running the medical computer at the bedside to record a surgical video. Regardless of the use of the medical computer, a fanless design is superior for cleanliness. It boosts device longevity too.

HAIs Go Beyond Dust Into Microbes

Fanless designs are great for clean environments, but there’s still a presence of pestilence that we aren’t able to see. We invite you to take a closer look at any surface with a high-powered microscope to see what dangers lurk on nearly every surface in a hospital. Microbes thrive on all surfaces, especially surfaces that are frequently touched thousands of times per day. A computer on wheels that nurses take room to room is no stranger to touch, so this kind of computer needs a little more oomph to protect everyone against the smallest of threats.

Every true medical computer has an antimicrobial housing with a resin mixed into the plastic to help reduce HAIs. Fanless design is a necessary feature for a clean-room environment, but an antimicrobial housing is that extra “oomph” feature that a proper medical computer should have. It discourages microbe spread and growth. HAIs can be reduced further with these integrated features you’ll find in computer on wheels.

Spray Directly on the Medical Computer

It’s easy to be in a mindset of “constant cleaning” when in a hospital. Typically there are hand sanitizer stations at every patient door and at nurse stations, so seeing disinfectant everywhere helps to remind everyone to wash up often. Even with strong efforts in keeping clean hands, infections are still possible. Computers on wheels are highly frequented by hands (especially those with touchscreens), so disinfecting the computer is a no-brainer for physicians and staff. The problem lies with the computer itself—not all of them are built to take constant sprays. One sudden flick of the wrist could send a jet of industrial disinfectant onto a capacitor, and suddenly you’ve turned a cleaning problem into an expensive IT problem. That’s why you should look for a medical grade computer with an IP65 rating.

An Ingress Protection rating of IP65 is prime for a reduction in HAIs because you can spray directly on the sealed screen without worry of damaging the components of the computer. Besides, bacteria have an affinity for hiding in the nooks and crannies of unsealed bezels, reducing the effectiveness of a direct disinfection. It’s just a superior solution to tier-1 computers found in a retail store.

 

A high frequency of Healthcare-Acquired Illnesses in a hospital or clinic puts the cleanliness standards behind doors into question. It’s important to be “clean conscious” at all times when working with people, but ensuring that all computers have these features can reduce HAI frequency and add an extra layer of protection for everyone, whether medical staff or patient. Take a stance against the microscopic culprits and arm your hospital with the best medical computers on the market today. Contact us to learn more.

 

RFID tablet medical tablet

RFID Tablet Technologies Solving Problems in the Hospital

A hospital is an unpredictable environment. One moment hallways are calm and clear; the next, staff are bustling to get a patient into the emergency room. Errors are not uncommon. Thankfully, technology has evolved over time to address a lot of the problems we’ve seen in the past arising from miniscule errors. RFID is one of the technologies incorporated into the daily use of hospital tech that has been exceptionally beneficial for many reasons. Here are some problems hospitals commonly face that can be solved using a medical tablet with RFID technology.

Asset Tracking Using an RFID Tablet

A recent news report detailed a VA hospital was missing over 1 million worth of hospital equipment over the course of several years due to various reasons—improper and erroneous tracking, theft, or misplacement. Clearly, the costs add up quickly over time. Radiology departments are no stranger to loss either. They’re usually inundated with lots of equipment, both large and small. It’s easy to misplace a lead marker for protection against high radiation levels because they’re such tiny devices. Just one lead marker costs approximately 20 dollars, and if they’re constantly misplaced the cost can add up quick.  Missing equipment, such as radiation markers, can be outfitted with RFID tags, and hospital staff can locate each tagged object using a medical tablet with RFID. It helps to prevent misplacement and theft. The technology pays for itself.

RFID Tablets Aren’t Just for Tracking Equipment

We understand that the hospital is one of the last places anyone wants to have an extended stay, and so some patients—especially the elderly and mentally unhealthy—may be inclined to wander or hide. There was a recent case in South Africa of a patient hiding in the ceiling of a hospital and staff wasn’t able to locate the patient for 13 days. Some sources online cite over a hundred babies were abducted from nurseries between the 1960s and today. RFID tablet technology can track where people are moving via tagged wristbands so, in the unlikely but very real situation of missing people or abductions, they can be located. RFID tablets protect lives. Misplacing a 30 thousand dollar surgical drill is one asset loss, but it doesn’t hold a candle to missing people.

Equipment Status Can be Tracked Too

Online studies point to numerous cases where unsterilized or improperly sterilized instruments transferred infections to surgical patients. Hospital infections can easily transfer if an instrument isn’t sterilized improperly—or at all. Medical staff can use an RFID tablet to implement new processes of ensuring instruments used in surgery are free of infection. Even linens can be tracked. Before they’re secured onto a bed, sheets with laundry tags can be scanned using a medical tablet with RFID to check their sterilization status. Infections drop, patients are healthier.

RFID Equals Improved Data Security

RFID technology doesn’t simply have to be about tracking equipment and inventory. Patient records must be kept secure. More and more hospitals are switching to some form or two factor authentication to sign into medical computers and tablets. Imprivata SSO is the standard that most hospitals used, and an RFID tablet that is already Imprivata certified means that your patients’ medical records are safe from data theft. Even in the event of the physical theft of a tablet, it would be impossible to access EMR software without the RFID card necessary to login. This not only keeps your patient records safe but also insulates a hospital from any potential lawsuits that might happen as the result of a data breach.

 

RFID goes beyond just saving a hospital money from replacing missing equipment—it protects the lives of the patients and medical staff in a myriad of ways. Ensure your hospital has the proper technology to track all inventory, assets, and patients. Contact us here today to see how you can drive down costs from unnecessary spending and costly accidents in your hospital.

HIPAA

Understanding the Move to Mobile and HIPAA

Five years after the Internet went live to an unsuspecting public – one that had no idea how much it would need cat videos, online shopping and binge-watching –  the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was born in 1996. Fast forward more than 20 years and we’ve seen the birth of the smartphone, tablet and smartwatch; the rise of social media; the emergence of cloud-based hosting and data storage; and now the Internet of Things (IoT).

Translation? Healthcare information exchange can occur – and must be protected – in more ways than those early HIPAA architects ever dreamed of. The following details what HIPAA does specify, where it’s lacking, and some of the technologies and solutions that can help you stay protected.

A Brief History of HIPAA

HIPAA established the first set of national guidelines for healthcare data maintenance and exchange. Over the next 10+ years, HIPAA expanded to include the enactment of the Privacy, Security and Enforcement rules, which set standards for personal health information (PHI) protection, disclosure, and access. These rules also outlined the compliance infrastructure that healthcare providers, health plans, and clearinghouses should have in place to protect data, monitor HIPAA adherence, and report breaches.

What HIPAA Has to Say About Mobile

HIPAA Journal provides an excellent summary of what HIPAA does and does not mandate when it comes to mobile devices. For instance, HIPAA requires multi-layered user-authentication controls for the access, storage, and transmission of electronic patient health information (ePHI). It further requires protections against data alteration and destruction through the implementation of monitoring controls. Here are a few specific focal areas and technologies for HIPAA compliance:

  • Data tracking – Consider digital watermarking
  • Information access – Certify all devices, block the transmission/download of ePHI where necessary and segregate work/personal data on individually owned devices
  • Password and public wi-fi security – Create policies that specify requirements and mandate VPN for remote access
  • App control – Limit usage to those with certified security controls and ensure security updates occur.
  • Device scanning and maintenance – Install anti-virus software, perform regular scans, and ensure automated security updates.
  • Data erasure – Implement technologies that allow for remote data deletion.

Text Me, Maybe

The healthcare industry is now using text marketing automation tools, social media, chatbots, and SMS marketing tools for everything from appointment reminders to wellness engagement. Opt-out functionality is a must. And while message encryption is critical, HIPAA does not technically require it for data at rest. For data in motion, however, the Security Rule advises encryption for the transmission of ePHI, particularly over SMS networks.

One thing that’s not allowed? Texting patient orders. In December 2017, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) clarified that while providers may text patient information to one another, it must be via a secure platform and cannot include the texting of patient orders. Its position reinforces not only HIPAA but its own Conditions of Participation (CoPs) and Conditions for Coverage (CfCs) agreements.

Hey, You! Get on to My Cloud

HIPAA also allows cloud-based storage. The OCR issued guidance in 2016 outlining requirements for the cloud service providers (CSPs) that medical practices must inevitably turn to for secure system implementation. Google Drive is just one of those cloud-based options. HIPAA Journal reports that the company’s Business Associate Agreements (BAAs) address the HIPAA Security, Privacy, and Breach Notification Rules, allowing for the use of Google Drive and subcomponents such as Google Forms, which providers can use to gather and share information.

Left to Your Own Devices

There are four letters that might make anyone operating in the HIPAA spaces cringe: BYOD. It stands for Bring Your Own Device and marks a growing trend in some sectors for employees to use their own technology in the workplace. Adoption is currently higher in other countries than the U.S., but with personal mobile and the IoT entering healthcare in big ways, it’s time to at least start thinking about it. While HIPAA doesn’t speak specifically to these areas, the existing Security Rule is a good place to start and can help you create policies in such areas as:

  • Patient and guest data access
  • Network and software security
  • Email, web and medical device
  • Workflow and information logging

Compliance: Broader than HIPAA, More Important Than Ever

Because there is much that HIPAA doesn’t specify, any organization protecting healthcare data should be aware of what other agencies are advising, including:

  • Mobile security – The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) issued 2015 guidance addressing standards for company-owned and BYOD mobile devices.
  • App development – The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), the agency responsible for HIPAA enforcement, has created a portal for app developers that addresses components of the Privacy and Security Rules, along with BAA guidance. Meanwhile, ACT | The App Association, has called on the OCR to get more specific as technology grows by leaps and bounds.
  • Connecting the dots – The OCR has mapped the HIPAA Security Rule and NIST Cybersecurity Frameworks, which it acknowledges is more granular when it comes to outlining administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.

As healthcare innovation continues to move at lightning speed, those in the industry will remain continually challenged by the dual needs to keep up with technology while protecting patient data. Advancements shouldn’t be limited by lagging regulations, which puts healthcare providers, executives and manufacturers in a position to drive compliant solutions where federally defined standards are lacking.

Laura Beerman is a writer for TechnologyAdvice. Her insights have appeared in RevCycleIntelligence, Becker’s, InformationWeek and other outlets. She has spoken nationally on population health, long-term care, and been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal for her accountable care predictions. She resides in Nashville with her Canadian husband and American kittens. You can find her on LinkedIn.

 

surgical monitor and medical computer system

3 Screen Technologies in Hospitals that Can Alleviate Problems

Not all screens are created equal, and that can be easily said for technology in a hospital. Screen tech should vary depending on the purpose the screen in question serves. Some monitors are used in surgical procedures, others are used heavily with EMR software, and some are even used by patients. If you don’t have the proper screen for your work in the hospital, it can affect staff workplace effectiveness and even patient satisfaction. If insufficient screen technology is a pain point for your medical facility, we’ve got the lowdown on what kind of hardware is best for what hospital positions.

Surgeons Need a Surgical Monitor

Medical error is found to be the third leading cause of death in the US; that statistic translates to about 250 thousand deaths annually according to Johns Hopkins. This statistic doesn’t delve into the specific reasons why an error occurs outside of human nature, but the best approach we can have is assuming this prevalent problem can be mitigated from all angles. One of the methods we can employ to safeguard against medical error is ensuring the proper technology is applied to the right medical procedure. Surgery, for example. Surgeons need excellent vision. If a surgeon begins an invasive procedure like an endoscopy, it’s important they’re able to see the imagery they’re receiving from the surgical camera clearly. Surgeons require technology beyond what’s available in stores that gives them instant feedback from their surgical cameras with high-quality imagery.

An all-in-one computer with a surgical monitor can reveal minute details of a patient’s condition for the most accurate diagnoses. The combined higher resolution, stronger brightness measurements, and unmatched clarity give medical practitioners the edge in identifying illnesses and hard-to-see symptoms so signs of a disease are clearer to see. Surgical monitors on all-in-one computers are key to proper diagnoses and effective operations. What you might find in a store doesn’t compare to the technical advantage you’ll find with a surgical monitor. With this technology, we can reduce medical error and misdiagnosis.

PCAP Technology on an All-in-One Computer

EMR software has grown in complexity since its inception. It’s also become more user-friendly by incorporating touch-screens and large interfaces to navigate the functions embedded within the software. However, the wrong touch screen technology can be a little for end users. Some touch screens lack clarity and features for medical professionals to use, so it’s best to employ what’s called projected capacitive technology.

A medical computer system using a projected capacitive (PCAP) touch screen is ideal for common use in a hospital because of the clearer display. It’s easier on the eyes because of the built-in technology and is more responsive than older touch screen tech. It allows for multiple-touch input so medical staff can fully manipulate imagery by zooming and rotating. This kind of technology is also more durable so it lasts longer than other touch screens.

Making Patient Engagement Computers More User Friendly

Sometimes using a mouse and keyboard isn’t feasible in specific computer stations behind hospital doors. A regular computer isn’t user-friendly with a keyboard and mouse since they’re cumbersome to control in patient rooms. Ever tried using a mouse and keyboard while laying down? It’s awkward. Patients don’t always have the strength or ability to sit up and use a computer, nor is there always a place to store a keyboard and mouse.

That’s why it’s ideal for any patient engagement computer to have a touchscreen. It’s a cost-effective solution for the patient bedside, and it’s easy for both medical practitioners and patients to control the computer. Medical practitioners can still use medical gloves for input, allowing them to use the computer to do charting or check patient test results. They can even share images like x-ray results with patients bedside. For the patient, a touchscreen allows them the freedom to navigate the internet, make video calls to family or turn on a movie.

 

By using the proper screen technology—whether it’s on a medical computer system with a surgical monitor or a patient engagement computer—we can reduce the frequency of medical error, misdiagnosis, and discomfort for all parties in the hospital. We still have a long journey ahead of us to see these problems reduced to almost zero frequency, but by understanding the primary ways to address these problems through better technology, we’ve got a promising start. Contact us today to see how you can start reducing medical errors so your hospital or clinic improves.

 

medical tablet and military grade tablet

3 Ways Mobile Technology Can Help People in Emergencies

Hurricane Sandy was one of the most destructive storms to hit the United States in the past decade. It’s listed as the fourth most costly storm in terms of property damage for the US and is reported to have caused at least 147 deaths. The death toll for every natural disaster is thankfully smaller than the potential count because of excellent emergency response teams. Natural disasters are more challenging events for first responders because they require thorough preparation and risky travel—sometimes directly in the middle of disaster zones. It’s not just skill, speed, and expertise in the mind of a paramedic to save lives, it’s the technology they use too. With the right kind of equipment, first responders can help the lives of those stranded during disastrous emergencies and keep lives afflicted as low as possible.

Medical Tablet Communication Without WiFi

Communication during medical emergencies in afflicted locations must remain constant for first responders and emergency medical teams. A first responder team will rely heavily on radio communication, but it takes more sophisticated technology to inform a hospital’s ICU that they’ve found a patient amongst the debris of a damaging storm.

First responders can use a medical tablet with 4G wireless technology to take photos, relay vital signs, provide patient information, and give an approximate patient arrival time, then send off the information to a nearby hospital so in-house emergency staff can scramble to prep before the patient arrives. The same medical tablet can be used in-house to track the patient’s progress to full rehabilitation. One tool to do multiple jobs—one based in the field, another based in the hospital.

Delivering Assistance to the Hungry and Homeless

Hurricane Harvey, another more recent storm, is listed as one of the most devastating natural disasters for the US. Several thousand people were rescued from the damaging winds and heavy rainfall. Nearly 50 thousand homes were affected, leaving many people without shelter. FEMA supplied 3 million meals, several thousand blankets, and thousands of hygiene kits for survivors. With such a hefty delivery to disaster areas, how are they able to keep track of such a high count of supplies, and how can they ensure every individual is served and protected?

Such a massive inventory distribution requires sophisticated tracking to ensure all meals—and all survivors—are accounted for. By using a military grade tablet, inventory from emergency supply warehouses to afflicted disaster sites can be scanned, tracked, and then marked as delivered once the meals are on-site. Discrepancies can be located easily on each disaster site as meals are scanned upon delivery into someone’s hands. Plus, the military grade tablets can be used to connect the disabled and hard-of-hearing to sign language interpreters—something that FEMA listed on their site as recent as 2013.

Military Grade Tablets are Best in Disaster Zones

In the aftermath of a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or any other natural disaster, emergency responders can’t rely on flimsy hardware to do their jobs. The tablet market is littered with underpowered, easily breakable tablets with poor viewing angles and speaker holes that are common failure points. Air quality is bad, dust and debris are often swirling, standing water is everywhere and access to survivors in need of attention can often mean crossing rugged and rocky terrain. We’ve heard of stories where water seeps into the crevices of tablets and gets under the screen, damaging the internal components and blurring the resolution. We’re sure paramedics have dropped equipment in the past, too; you can often see the result of a dropped touchscreen device in the hands of someone unlucky. A paramedic shouldn’t need to decipher what’s on a tablet screen through a series of deep cracks in the glass.

Drops and ingress are bound to happen in disaster areas. That’s why emergency responders need military grade tablets that can resist drops, accidental damage, and water ingress; the proper type of tablet has an ingress rating of IP65 to resist direct water sprays, splashes, and to ensure dirt and dust don’t seep into the tablet innards. Settling for anything less in an emergency can cost time—and more.

 

If you’re searching for the best tablet for emergency situations, don’t settle for models on the consumer market; the right tablet for the job can withstand the perils of emergency disaster zones and help those afflicted like none other. Features such as 4G wireless connectivity, barcode scanners, and ingress protection ensure the tablet has full capability so you can get the job done. Contact us today to find out more.

industrial tablets and medical tablets

Understanding Tablet Battery Life: Not All Solutions are Created Equally

Mobility in the workplace is crucial to boosting productivity. Ask any construction worker or physician using a tablet how their operations have improved and they’ll easily give a laundry list of benefits—time is money in the workplace, and saving one saves the other. However, changing to a mobile workstation can also present a new set of problems that can be pain points for professionals on the go. Battery life is probably one of the most common complaints with any mobile device, whether that be for personal or commercial use. But simply choosing a commercial grade tablet that boasts the longest battery life can end up causing a host of new problems that end up costing you more in the long run. A recent report by VDC Research shows that 18 percent of consumer-grade tablets fail every year when used in the workplace—that’s just one metric a business faces when insufficient tablets are used on the job. Here are a few more pain points to consider.

Understanding your Processing Needs

Scour the market to locate the best rugged tablet and you’ll find a vast majority use low-powered, compact processors. They’re great for running a quick app to check sports scores and what new 5-star restaurants are in the area, but those processors aren’t built for running sophisticated business software meant to track metrics, project progress, or other important business-related numbers. The wrong tablet in the hands of a professional can be frustrating—unresponsive applications, hefty load times, the works. We hate loading bars just as much as you do.

Address that problem early. Find a rugged tablet with an i5 or i7 processor. Your complex software will operate a lot faster than any tablet with the consumer-grade processor. While a more powerful processor can drain a battery faster, hot swap technology means you can just swap depleted batteries for charged ones without having to turn off the unit. Plus, any future upgrades to your software won’t mean you’ll need a new tablet upgrade for at least a few years.

Your Environment Impacts Readability

If you’ve held a mobile device recently (and you likely have), you probably recall squinting or moving to shadowy areas just to properly read what’s on the screen. We’re sure some professionals in the past have shielded the sun or find a darker area of their working environment—a heavy annoyance if you’re working on a construction site during mid-day or you manage a mobile medical unit trying to process patients. The reason for this is that a lot of commercial grade tablets choose to sacrifice screen resolution and brightness to preserve battery life.

The best rugged tablets have a high resolution of 1920 x 1200 and a “nits” emittance of 400 brightness—one of the highest brighest ratings for tablets available today. Brighter screens and higher resolutions are much easier on the eyes. You’ll likely experience fewer headaches and fewer frustrations.

Commercial Tablets Can Get Bulky, Quickly

If a physician is using a medical tablet, they’re a step ahead in maximum efficiency. Same can be said of a warehouse worker using an industrial tablet. However, their evolving task lists might require the use of different peripherals like barcode scanners, RFID readers, biometric security devices, and other equipment to do their job efficiently. External peripherals like an RFID scanner can increase the bulk of a medical tablet. Commercial grade tablets have limited ports, which in and of itself can make it difficult to connect peripherals like barcode and RFID scanners. And if you do manage to connect all of your devices, the tablet itself becomes bulky, and you know have two or three extra devices that you have to purchase and properly maintain.

Skip the tool belt approach by finding a tablet that has all the peripherals included in the design! All three components can be wrapped into the design for a rugged tablet so you don’t need to carry around devices to plug in or store away, risking time drain or possible peripheral loss. Not to mention that plugging in external devices to a tablet is going to contribute to battery drain anyway.

Solving the Battery Issue Without Sacrificing Functionality

After working ten hours with two hours to go on an exhausting shift, flashing battery lights and notifications that your tablet needs an immediate recharge are not welcome. Work has to be postponed to restore the tablet to a full charge. We’re sure there are cases where the internal battery for an industrial tablet malfunctions, the power shuts off, work is lost, and the battery is sealed inside, impossible to remove without voiding the warranty or cracking open components. If the tablet is out of warranty (or voided), it’s usually a costly repair. Once more, time and money are lost and your business suffers.

Resolve that potential roadblock by using a tablet with swappable batteries. There’s virtually no downtime when there’s an extra set of charging batteries that can replace one at the first sign of battery drain. Extra batteries can be charged at a central location and be quickly swapped out for a drained battery in seconds without having to power off the unit. This eliminates both downtime and the need to worry about battery life completely. In theory, a tablet with hot swap batteries can run 24/7 so long as you keep the extra batteries charged and ready.

The bottom line is time and money are at risk if you only consider one thing when purchasing a tablet for your business. Think about what the needs of your business are and what the potential pitfalls might be if you settle on a budget tablet. Cybernet features both a medical grade and an industrial grade tablet that are ruggedized and have a robust component integration, powerful internal processors that beat out consumer choices, swappable batteries to increase uptime, and high-resolution screens with above average brightness. Contact us to learn how we can customize our solutions to meet your unique needs.

 

 

industrial mini PC in automated warehouse

Automating Production with Industrial PCs

The idea of “build the machine, build the empire” has been a concept since the dawn of the industrial revolution in the 18th century. Machines are largely the force behind manufacturing today for mass produced goods. Once the machine is built, the time saved in altering a manual process to automated is staggering. With the advent of automation, suddenly work time is reduced significantly and leisure time increases. Because of the industrial revolution and the process of manufacturing, a new standard of living arose for people in the manufacturing business.

We’re pretty far beyond the initial growth of the industrial revolution, but some of the concepts founded during that time period still stand. Now, the high-concept of a fully-automated manufacturing plant is attainable because of advanced AI and use of the industrial mini PC. Once the machine—the mega monolithic manufacturing plant—is built, maintaining a high productivity rate is key.

The Problems of Manual Processes and Addressing them with Industrial Mini PCs

To err is human. That’s just nature. It’s reported online that the financial cost of a manually-driven forklift accident totals about 38 thousand dollars—and that’s just for the forklift itself, not including any lost productivity while the forklift is being repaired or a worker is recovering from injury. While not every company can afford self driving forklifts, inefficiency can be tracked in even the most mundane of manual processes. These problems prompt the need to control warehouse operations by an industrial computer. The more manual processes a manufacturing plant has, the more room there is for fatigue to set in and human error to cause issues with productivity and quality. We aren’t at a place technologically where someone can just flip a switch at the beginning of the day and expect machines to run themselves until its time to go home for the evening. One thing we can do is to use human machine interface, or HMI computers, that provide a bridge between manual processes and automation. The HMI computer allows a person to monitor and make adjustments to a machine’s output while the software operates the machine itself.

Safety in the Workplace and Workers’ Compensation

Industrial mini PCs are able to take over processes that are not only time intensive but ultimately dangerous for humans to be involved with. Injury on the job spells disaster for the individual and the business. The factory floor can be a dangerous place, which is why not just anyone is qualified to work in a manufacturing setting. Automating processes that minimize direct interaction with heavy machinery with an HMI computer or industrial PC saves money and mitigates against injury, loss of productivity and costly worker’s compensation claims. Not only that, but proper industrial computers have terminal blocks that can be remote-controlled to avoid problems of accessing the computer if it’s located near hazardous materials—dust, excessive paint spray, welding machines, high temperatures, the whole gamut. By streamlining common warehouse and manufacturing plant efforts, there’s typically a reduction in injuries—thus fewer workers’ comp claims and higher productivity with lower staff absence.

Applications Beyond Computing

Automated factories can also employ industrial computers to keep an eye on factory operations. One computer can be used to control a series of checks and balances or a monitoring system to see when and where production might hit bottlenecks. Computers can schedule the most efficient production plans, decreasing lead times and improving customer satisfaction. An industrial PC can even monitor maintenance needs, meaning you can identify potential machinery breakdowns before they happen, limiting costly repairs and maintaining consistent production levels. In the event of an unexpected breakdown on the factory line, the plant can be stopped immediately minimizing damage and allowing for repairs to take place faster. Fewer labor costs, quicker problem identification, and a smoother automated warehouse. Problems solved.

Remaining Results of an Automated Warehouse

Companies have been reducing costs via employing robots to automate their manufacturing efforts. The numbers don’t lie! Another result of the automated plant is that customers are more satisfied with the manufactured products. As before, build the machine, build the empire—you’ll just need a method to control it. Would you rather have a machine equipped with laser devices being controlled by an industrial computer painting a product, or someone hand-painting the product? Automating your warehouse means a higher standard of quality to each individual product. The benefits are clear; less time, less money spent, and higher satisfaction on the customers’ end with unmatched results. To see how industrial mini PCs can help eliminate manual processes for your company you can contact us here.

 

Computer on wheels or medical computer

Mishaps in Hospitals from Inadequate Hardware Problems

Technology is great. We can stick to 8 hour work days while increasing productivity and then go home to families or plan out our next self-driven project. Granted that’s what technology is supposed to help us do, but sometimes bumps in the road of problem A to solution B can be tech-central. Technology can fail, unfortunately. Thankfully, the time invested to restore tech to working order is a sacrifice hospitals are willing to accept to bring better and less erroneous healthcare to patients. However, when older and inadequate tech is more of a burden, it’s time to consider scrapping what used to work ten years ago with something that can reduce tech-related stress and hangups that drain more time than necessary to get the job done.

Spotty WiFi with Computers on Wheels

It’s a constant problem for the 21st century in hospitals everywhere—spotty wireless communications in every corner of the hospital building. Call up a nurse’s desk to ask what issues they’re facing with technology and inconsistent WiFi will be mentioned. Chalk it up to weakened signals from aging hardware and insufficient components. It’s not feasible to remove that problem for good, but it’s possible to pinpoint key factors in technology—mostly residing in a hospital’s medical computers—that can be improved so WiFi isn’t a problem of which patient room you’re in or where you’re standing. Here’s WiFi woes and ways to restore the fidelity in the “Fi.”

Take a hypothetical case—a nurse using a cloud-based EMR system on a cheap laptop finds that in patient room 105 the WiFi doesn’t kick in, and so entering information relies on memory, written notes, or a silly, cumbersome workaround. That’s not ideal for a hospital, especially when “zero” can be a dangerous entry for a patient refill or a different metric. If the IT department has ensured that the wireless infrastructure is the highest standard on the market, then the culprit lies within the laptop. The wireless card inside of the machine doesn’t communicate well with the wireless routers in the hospital.

If that’s the reason for the signal drop, it’s time for IT to consider upgrading their computing efforts to medical computers with Intel-certified wireless cards instead of laptops that power cheap alternatives. An Intel dual-band wireless AC card is the current standard for wireless technology in a hospital. Not only more secure, these cards have the know-how to switch between wireless routers on the fly without signal loss. Computers on wheels are often pushed through several hospital wings and floors, jumping from one wireless router to the next. Intel wireless cards are secure and stable enough to swap from router to router seamlessly. It’s a hardware standard that computers on wheels and medical devices need to operate optimally. Besides, less stress on the end-user is always a positive thing.

Hospitals Don’t Shut Down—Neither Should the Hardware

Twenty thousand hours. That’s how long a standard hard drive disk lasts per average metrics and regular use. It may seem like a lot, but that’s just over two years if you do the math. Medical computers operate at near 24/7 runtimes. If there’s a hard drive failure in two years, that’s not a very strong lifespan for a computer to store data. The last mishap a nurse or physician wants is for the digital rug to be pulled out beneath them with a hard drive failure while they’re busy entering patient data into a medical computer. The drive can’t be sent off to data rescue because it would violate HIPAA laws. So, what to do?

Thankfully, technology has improved hard disk storage so there aren’t moving parts to break—solid state drives have a longer lifespan than regular platter hard drives, but that doesn’t rule the smarter tech out of defect or an eventual kaput. A medical grade computer with a military-grade solid state hard drive will push that two-year average life cycle to beyond five years. If the looming storage failure is still a concern for staff—which can happen at any given moment—then a backup drive coupled with the original solid state can serve as a proper safety net. IT can clone the surviving drive and restore the medical computer to optimal working status. Besides, a computer cycle for a hospital should be five years to stay with EMR software development. Having a hard drive that’s graded to last beyond a purchase cycle is ideal.

Shoddy Medical Computer Touch Screens

Touch screens are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. Introduce the dirt and grease from five separate individuals’ hands onto a touch-screen interface and an infection may reside somewhere in the fingerprint jungle. They’re not always the easiest to clean either—spray disinfectant directly on a medical monitor and the internal components could suffer from adverse effects from the disinfectant (broken pixels, unresponsive touch controls, or an immediate transformation into a paperweight) running into the crevices of the monitor. Some insufficient touch screen tech needs constant calibration to ensure what’s touched is the intended function. Pressing “Close” should never result in “Administer Medicine”—we shudder at that thought. But there’s still tech problems galore in working with touch screens that don’t measure up to what hospitals need.

The kind of tech needed in a hospital is what’s called 5-Wire Resistive technology. Avoiding too much tech-talk, it’s a more durable technology than capacitive because it holds up to scratches and cosmetic imperfections, it’s easier to work with since it doesn’t require skin contact, it’s cheaper to manufacture, and it lasts longer than the newer capacitive technology. Couple these features on a medical computer and bye-bye tech problems.

It isn’t intuitive to think of hard drives, touch screen technology or wireless cards when you’re talking about patient care. But in today’s HIT world, technology is one of the driving factors in providing the absolute best user experience for healthcare practitioners so they can focus on taking care of patients. For more information on how a computer designed specifically with healthcare in mind is different than a commercial grade computer you can contact us today to learn more about our medical computers.