As we continue to deal with the spread of coronavirus by staying indoors and as healthcare providers continue to treat and test on the front lines, we’ve all learned quite a bit about the effectiveness of many popular healthcare initiatives. Programs like telehealth, clinical collaboration, population health management and so much more that have been touted as the future of healthcare have come front and center as they’ve now become mandatory in treating this global pandemic. 

Fortunately, despite many of these initiatives having yet to reach their full implementation, the hardware being used to fuel these programs has remained steadfast and reliable. Medical computer systems have remained the backbone for several of these advances in healthcare and, especially during these difficult times, their versatile use cases have helped many facilities empower their telehealth, testing, treatment, and triaging efforts. 

Below are only a few of the medical computer use cases we’ve observed that have helped providers keep up with the coronavirus’ alarming progression. 

Medical Computers Used for Testing and Screening Devices

It’s no breaking news that testing has remained rather limited despite just how infectious COVID-19 is. Of course, several facilities are doing their part to address the lack of available testing for their patients and even those not admitted into their building. 

There are two types of testing for the coronavirus: a method for determining whether someone has the virus that involves a nasal swab, and another that involves taking blood to determine whether someone had the virus in the past and has developed antibodies. Regardless of which test is taken, it’s a given that biological material needs to be taken and analyzed to ensure they’re one correctly. Device manufacturers have stepped up in order to meet those technical demands with their devices equipped with 4K medical monitors.

Devices with this high-def resolution are essential in helping physicians more accurately diagnose patients based on samples drawn for digital pathology. Aside from resolution, what makes these monitors helpful in COVID-19 testing facilities is their built-in protections against infection. 

Medical grade monitors that are built to comply with IP65 certification are protected against liquid and dust penetration, meaning they can be sanitized with liquid agents without users having to worry about damaging the machine’s internal components. Furthermore, these monitors are designed to be fully antimicrobial* to protect the computer casing from deterioration and degradation. Devices specifically made with these antimicrobial* properties baked into their casings and screens can also be sanitized several times without having those properties be wiped off (which can happen if the product only uses a spray-on coating).

Lastly, the right medical monitor built to be used in a healthcare setting also doesn’t include fan-based cooling. This can prove immensely helpful during the current outbreak because, as we’re all likely aware of by now, droplets emitted by sneezes and coughs are the primary infecting agent for COVID-19. By cutting the fan from their designs, certain medical computer manufacturers eliminate the possibility of that fan drawing in those contaminants and circulating them throughout a facility intended to help people beat infection.   

Addressing the Medical Supply Shortage With 3D Printing

We’ve already seen how additive manufacturing and 3D printing have helped manufacturers through the coronavirus’ attacks on supply chains. When parts and supplies from providers are no longer available, tech-savvy manufacturers turn to 3D printing to create parts they would otherwise rely on others for. Fortunately, the medical industry is beginning to see the merit in these practices as well! 

It’s no exaggeration to say that the medical space is suffering a shocking supply shortage as it continues to treat those infected as well as test those who suspect they might be infected. Thankfully, by using medical grade computers equipped with 3D printing peripherals and software, hospitals and even companies outside of the health sector are stepping up to create their own medical supplies in the face of these shortages. 

RE2 Robotics is one such company that has been printing extra face masks in order to help local care facilities keep up with the ever-increasing number of patients. What’s so helpful about these 3D printing capabilities of medical computers is the fact that the process of creating these masks is rather passive. The 3D printer does most of the work while all that’s required from on-site operators is the proper software and a blueprint for the masks that can be provided for them. Furthermore, with all of the infection precautions and certifications we mentioned earlier, these computers can be left to print masks and other supplies without staff having to worry about breaking any HAI regulations.

Equipping Testing Tents and Vans

Supplies such as masks and gloves aren’t the only things running short in hospitals across the globe. As more serious cases develop, more facilities struggle to leave enough rooms open to treat and test patients. The natural solution many have turned to is extending testing and treatment capabilities to outside of the facility building with tents set up in parking lots equipped with medical grade testing and screening equipment. Many facilities have even begun bringing rugged medical tablets out into the field in order to collect patient information as well as perform triage practices to help prioritize those who need emergency care. 

Atrium Health took this example and went even further with it, utilizing mobile medical vans to drive to and test underserved and minority communities that otherwise wouldn’t be able to come in for testing. They were able to do this by utilizing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) installed on medical computers to find underserved hotpot communities where positive cases were on the rise.

Using Telehealth to Protect Staff

The coronavirus doesn’t discriminate between patients and physicians. Unfortunately, with caregivers throwing themselves directly into the line of fire when they care for their patients, physician infection has become an all too common occurrence. Thankfully, several facilities have been rather responsive in addressing this issue through telehealth tech.

Using medical cart computers with carts that are remote control capable, certain facilities have been able to protect their physicians from infection by eliminating the need to be present in the room with an infected patient. Instead, staff can speak with patients over video chatting apps installed on the medical computer. In some cases, these cart solutions have even been equipped with peripherals and screening/testing equipment, allowing physicians to actually run tests without being present in a patient’s room. In addition to limiting exposure, these solutions have even helped limit the amount of disposable masks and gloves used by giving staff the opportunity to screen, test, and talk without making contact. The limited equipment saved this way can then be saved for patients that absolutely require the physical presence of their doctor or nurse. 

Outside of the facility, providers such as Jefferson Health have been using telehealth to connect with patients at home over video and chatting apps to discuss symptoms and triage whether or not they needed to come in for testing or treatment. In much the same way as remote controlled cart computers, this method of telehealth also eliminates possibilities for exposure and, because these appointments take a much shorter amount of time than in-person visits, more patients can be seen and only those that desperately need care can be called in for more attention.

Healthcare is Set to Change But Tomorrow’s Tech is Here Today

Many of the initiatives we’re seeing undertaken in response to COVID-19 are programs we’ve known for a while would benefit the healthcare space. Now that we’re seeing these programs implemented to great effect, it’s very likely these programs will only continue to grow in effectiveness and popularity after the pandemic ends. The hardware used to make these programs a reality, however, are in the here and now. For more information on how you can incorporate medical grade computers in your facility’s response to the coronavirus and in its responses to future patient needs, contact an expert from Cybernet today.