Telehealth technology has been an exciting avenue of investment for many healthcare providers the world over. The benefits have been highlighted again and again, but recent concerns regarding the coronavirus have brought telehealth technology, such as chat app compatible medical tablets, back into the spotlight. Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, for example, has seen skyrocketing rates of use for their Connect Care remote screening service. New York is even seeing massive support for telehealth initiatives, receiving a 500 million dollar appropriations bill for telehealth applications earlier this month. 

Remote care doesn’t always mean caring for a patient at home. In the case of a highly infectious illness, doctors and nurses sometimes need to administer care within the facility without entering the patient’s room. In fact, several hospitals have taken up “forward triage”, or the practice of sorting out patients before they arrive at the ER through telehealth communication tech, in response to concerns regarding the coronavirus outbreak. 

With that in mind, there are several pieces of telehealth technology that can empower a facility’s remote care approach both in and out of the facility. Among them, the medical cart computer is surely one of the more versatile, especially during the case of an outbreak. 

Truthfully, it’s much more than just the cart that delivers benefits during a surge in telehealth use. Every component of a computer on wheels setup comes together to create a custom-made solution for remote care need.      

The Cart

Computer carts make both in-person and remote care more mobile. Many are designed to function with software that allows them to be remotely controlled. Using these carts, doctors and nurses can roll in cameras, computers, and other telecommunication hardware and speak face to digital face with a patient without physically being in the room. Not only does this deliver personal interaction without the risk, it saves providers time that would otherwise be spent meticulously suiting up in protective gear and rigorously sanitizing before and after the interaction. 

Speaking of sanitation, carts that are built with antimicrobial properties also protect against harmful bacteria. This in conjunction with regular sanitation practices can truly enhance your HAI protection efforts.   

The Medical Computer

Antimicrobial carts can only protect patients and staff so much if the computers housed in them are only commercial-grade. Fortunately computers that are made medical grade also provide antimicrobial protection. Pairing a computer such as these with an antimicrobial cart, a facility’s entire computer on wheels setup can be optimized to fight off bacteria. Without this layer of protection, bacteria can survive on surfaces for hours, days, sometimes weeks and go on to infect all staff and patients who touch that computer or cart. 

Of course, it’s important to make a distinction between commercial grade and medical grade computers. It’s important, also, to pick medical grade devices with a discerning eye as not all are created equal.

Fully Antimicrobial

Bacteria can survive on all manner of surfaces. It’s not enough to simply have part of the device be made antimicrobial. Everything from a computer or tablet’s enclosure to its glass needs to be fortified against harmful pathogens, especially if the device in question is touchscreen capable.

Furthermore, in cases where remote care is necessary, it’s very likely that disinfections will be occurring much more frequently than usual. Facilities will naturally want to look for a medical computer capable of withstanding regular exposure to cleaning materials and scrubbing. It’s best to search for devices that have their antimicrobial properties baked into the materials of the device itself as these last longer and don’t degrade. Other manufacturers may use antimicrobial coatings on their devices that quickly rub away after being exposed to multiple disinfections.  

Certified for Patient Safety

Computers that are labeled “medical grade” usually have to perform quite some legwork to earn that title. Most notably, they need to be meticulously tested in order to earn EN60601-1 certification. This certification ensures that the device doesn’t give off electromagnetic interference that could compromise the functions of other life-sustaining medical appliances. 

Optimized to Prevent Infection

Medical grade computers combat infection in more ways than one. In addition to being antimicrobial, they’re also built to be fanless. Fanless computers prevent infection by cutting the possibility of bacteria being sucked into the computer and growing before being spat back out into the room due to a circulating fan.

Only a medical computer with all of these requirements will optimize your infection protection efforts if your facility decides to implement telehealth technology.  

The Peripherals

In a perfect world, patient care could be entirely localized onto one medical computer. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. In many cases, telehealth patient care requires diverse tools and hardware that, thankfully, can also be equipped to a remote controlled computer cart. 

Tools like vital sign monitors, digital stethoscopes, and spirometers can also be equipped onto a medical cart computer setup, allowing workstations whose tools can be operated from a safe distance, allowing for remote screening and testing. 

If you know you have several peripherals you need to make room for on a computer cart, shopping for a medical computer with as many of those peripherals built into it as possible can be a real space saver. A battery powered medical computer equipped with an RFID scanner, for example, removes the need for a bulky battery to be placed on the cart while also removing the need for an external RFID badge reader for physicians looking to log into patient records. This in turn, opens up space for more peripherals on a computer cart that can expand remote care capabilities.

Effective Telehealth Starts With Effective Telehealth Technology

Regardless of whether or not we’re dealing with an outbreak such as the current coronavirus, telehealth is something the healthcare space is sure to see much more of. Preparing for that wide-spread adaptation by embracing advances such as today’s medical cart computer can ensure your facility is an effective early adopter in the future. For more information on how you can implement telehealth technology into your facility, contact an expert from Cybernet today.