When doctors and nurses started bringing their own tablet computers to work three or four years ago, it was a sign that times were changing. Although the health care industry has lagged behind other industries in the adoption of tablet computers in the workplace, they are catching up rapidly. According to a recent article in April of 2013, 72% of physicians now use a tablet, up 10% over 2012. In another recent survey of health care professionals and administrators, 60% say they have used their tablet at work for at least one year, 28% for two years, and 7% for three years. Among those surveyed, 59% use their own personal tablet, 33% use employer-supplied tablets, and 8% say they use both. Their employers (hospitals and clinics) are starting to purchase them for their workers. The benefits to hospitals and clinics are clear: lower IT costs and increasing worker productivity. It’s a win-win for both the employers and the professionals.
How do health care workers use tablets? They use them for patient monitoring, data collection, reporting, updating and inputting medical records, scheduling appointments, collaboration, communication, and managing drug dispensary and prescriptions. In short, most all medical and administrative aspects of health care computing can be done with tablets. The software companies that produce electronic medical record systems are in the midst of updating their complex, full software versions that currently run on desktop PCs to run on tablets or be accessible via cloud computing. As these EMR software vendors catch up to the hardware adoption rate, tablets can be used for nearly every administrative or medical process within a hospital or clinic.
The light weight of most tablets makes them very popular among mobile health care workers. They are much lighter than laptops to carry around, and they enable secure access anywhere within a medical facility. Typing on a tablet can be slow and challenging, but even with that, health care workers estimate that they gain at least 1.2 hours per day in productivity over using conventional PCs. They also felt that using tablets enabled them to more easily collaborate with coworkers, serve patients more effectively, access data faster while on the go, and made their work more enjoyable.
Not all tablets are equal. Many of the tablets on the market today are designed for consumers or home users, and are not business-grade or medical-grade (health care needs both of those things.) Cybernet has spent a lot of time researching the health care industry, and has designed two tablets that meet the unique needs of both the business (T10 Windows Tablet PC) and medical (CyberMed T10 Tablet) side of health care computing. What should hospitals and health care workers look for in a tablet computer?
- The tablet should be light weight (less than 5 pounds) and easy to carry; a handle is a plus. (The CyberMed Windows Tablet PC weighs 1.9 pounds and has a carrying handle.)
- Tablets should have the Windows operating system and have enough processing power to be able to communicate with a medical facility’s networks and EMR systems that may already be in place. (Both of Cybernet’s tablets are Windows-based, and use Intel’s latest Cedarview processor technology.)
- Medical certification is crucial for tablets that are used in medical environments, and an antimicrobial case is important so that it can aid infection control. (Cybernet’s CyberMed T10 Tablet has both.)
- A touch screen that accepts gloved input is important for tablets that are used in sterile environments and patient rooms. (Cybernet’s tablets have touch screens that allow gloved input.)
- A sealed front bezel to enable cleaning with liquids without damaging the electronics. (Both of Cybernet’s tablets have an IP65 rating, and are dustproof and waterproof.
- Hospitals use barcode scanners and RFID readers for drug dispensing and secure access, so tablets need to have these types of scanner connectivity. (Cybernet’s tablets support barcode scanners and RFID readers.)