How Medical Patient-Side Computers Are Used By Doctors And Patients

Computer technology and healthcare are no longer separable, with the rapid adoption of interconnected, smart equipment in all areas of healthcare. A few years ago, patient side infotainment systems grasped the attention of hospitals. Since under the Affordable Care Act the hospitals’ budgets directly depend on the patients’ satisfaction, medical facilities are redesigning certain aspects of patient care. From hotel-like patient rooms to more affordable and easy to deploy bedside infotainment systems, computers and IoT (the Internet of Things) are actively populating the patient rooms.

Infotainment

Bedside medical grade computers attribute a great deal to patient satisfaction. Infotainment terminals let patients not only have access to the entertainment apps but also to preserve a certain degree of productivity unless medically advised otherwise.  With the help of the bedside infotainment terminals, patients can engage in entertainment, self-service, and communication:

  • Watch movies, news, and TV, download on-demand content
  • Make phone calls
  • Communicate via the Internet (chat, email, Skype video calls, conference calls)
  • Play games, listen to music
  • Browse the web
  • Shop online
  • Access patient-end hospital intranets
  • Even work, if medically acceptable
  • Pay bills online
  • Alert staff, call for help
  • Communicate with nurses

An All-in-One medical bedside terminal alleviates the stress and discomfort, lets patients find distraction and keep in touch their families, no matter where they are. Yet, providing numerous communication choices is by far not the most vital advantage of the bedside infotainment terminals.

Self-service

When used as a remote control for a connected bed, curtains, lighting, and other connected items, or to access the hospital’s meal-ordering system with a direct access to the physician’s dietary recommendations is a significant shift in patient experience.

Awareness/Education

Another important use of medical All-in-Ones in patient-side care is education, or rather the increase of health awareness among patients. Doctors effectively use bedside terminals to push educational and instructional videos and presentations to patients. It is a time-saving way to help patients understand their medical condition, what recommendations they should follow once they get home, what diet to follow. Such edutainment is vital in promoting awareness about the symptoms that should be of concern in each particular case, about how to manage prescriptions and how to safely take medicine.

As the trend toward shorter hospital stays continues, more responsibility is on the patient to follow the physician’s instructions. The bedside infotainment terminals contribute greatly to help patients understand the medical recommendations since the instructions are always highly personalized and meet the patient’s unique needs and situation. Often, the presentations are interactive and facilitate the learning process by letting the patients revisit the information and study it as much as they need.

An engaged, well-informed and emotionally satisfied patient is on a fast track to recovery, and is sure to rate his/her hospital stay highly.

Clinical Benefits

A bedside terminal that serves dual purpose – patient infotainment and doctor productivity – solves multiple issues. Doctors no longer need to carry laptops for timely data input, or memorize patient details or write them down on paper.

The medical staff is able to access the patients’ health records directly and immediately during ward rounds, or medical treatment at the bedside. Such accessibility reduces the risk of human error, misinterpretation, and misunderstanding between the healthcare professionals from various departments, and between doctors and patients.

The medical bedside All-in-One can be integrated with multiple back-end applications used by healthcare professionals, from EMR to HIT, to prescriptions issuing and tracking, to image viewing and archiving. It is used to access intranet communication system, as well as the physician-provider order system.

Moreover, medical patient-side computers improve the quality and effectiveness of care, and reduce cost, according to the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR). For example, the HELP system relies on computers not only to transfer and store patient data but also to give doctors advice on how to approach clinical problems. From a timely antibiotic administration, or a detection of an adverse reaction to a drug, or an alert of an upcoming kidney failure based on creatinine levels – smart systems help physicians save lives.

Requirements

However, not all medical All-in-Ones are made equal. When the bedside infotainment systems first gained traction, some manufacturers focused on patient infotainment. So, when the need for medical software and peripherals integration became evident, their terminals were not capable of running resource-hungry applications, or connect to legacy equipment.

Therefore, medical patient-side computers must be built from the ground up for medical and patient use. Whereas the former implies powerful processor and video card, the latter implies adherence to industry safety standards. A medical patient-side computer must be antimicrobial, dust and waterproof for easy disinfection. It must have a rigorous electric certification to prevent power-related accidents. It must have ample connectivity options and be ergonomic to have a minimum footprint, and reduce the number of wires. This, in turn, prevents accidents related to falls. Yet, a terminal made for medical and patient use must be compatible with legacy equipment for ample patient tracking.

Last, but not least, is the functionality that secures the data. RFID reader, or barcode scanner and CAC reader integrated allow healthcare facilities to protect the sensitive data of patients and comply with strict HIPAA regulations.

Combined, the above benefits of patient side computers for patients and doctors bring numerous benefits to hospitals by reducing the maintenance costs and human errors, saving staff time, and improving efficiency.

Since a medical patient side computer must meet the highest industry standards, its components must be military-grade and durable. In a perfect scenario, a terminal apt for use in a near-patient environment should be fanless to prevent air and dust particles circulation in sterile rooms. These are the guidelines Cybernet follows when designing its medical computers, and following them ensures a <2% overall failure rate of our medical All-in-One PCs with a product life cycle of 5+ years.

Summary

Everything about a robust medical patient side computer is two-fold and of mutual benefit both to doctors and patients, but also to healthcare administrators.

  • Connectivity, personal productivity, and entertainment translate to greater patient satisfaction.
  • Use of terminals as a remote control and means of meal ordering as well as personalized educational videos and presentations makes patients more self-sufficient. This, in turn, frees up some time of the overloaded nurses, who are otherwise stressed to spend more time to tend to patients’ personal rather than clinical needs.
  • Use of patient data tracking with medical back-end applications translates to greater staff productivity, and fewer errors.
  • The high quality of discreet parts, antimicrobial casing, and powerful hardware translate into long product life cycle, low failure rate, and low maintenance costs.

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