Health IT is improving patient health, data collection and safety, care quality and efficiency, but most importantly it is helping providers restrain rising costs. Through the implementation of technology that serves dual, or often times multiple, purposes, healthcare providers are introducing new IT solutions and cutting unnecessary spending. With the advent of specialized, medical grade computers, hospitals are finding ways to address both the doctors and nurses’ efficiency and productivity issues and patient satisfaction, which is directly tied into the provider’s rewards under the Affordable Care Act.
Hospitals recognize the value of a dual purpose computer integrated into the hospital rooms. Health IT, according to a RAND research, could account for $77 billion efficiency savings per year, when implemented fully.
Doctors and Nurses
Medical computers at the patient bedside are used by doctors, nurses and patients alike, and provide an unprecedented level of connectivity and efficiency to all.
EHR implementation is urged by the government, and providers adopting it seek ways to make their EHR systems mobile and accessible in real time. When doctors are able to submit the details of admission and all episodes of care at the patient bedside, no details are left behind or forgotten.
Fully-functional EHRs supply care providers with patient data, enable physicians to enter patient care orders and help make evidence-based clinical decisions. With a medical computer running an EHR system installed in near-patient environments, doctors and nurses no longer have to rush back to the office to enter the details of care, or seek a shared computer in the hallway. The immediate availability of EHR helps medical professionals reduce duplicate entries and test orders.
Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and HELP systems enable physicians to order laboratory tests and prescription drugs digitally, without leaving a patient room. CPOE eliminates errors associated with handwritten prescriptions that are often illegible. The system checks prescription orders for accuracy and flags any that appear inadequate, effectively reducing preventable medication errors by 55%, according to a study.
HIT, EMR, image viewing, intranet communication and physician-provider order system – useful bedside applications are numerous. They store and transfers patient information, give timely recommendations on clinical problems, alleviate staff’s workload and reduce errors.
Infotainment systems now have hospitals’ full attention since the Affordable Care Act makes their budgets dependent on patient satisfaction. Affordable and easy-to-deploy infotainment systems integrated into the existing hospital infrastructure without compromising hospitals’ legacy equipment make their way to patient rooms. They bridge the IoT devices, vitals monitoring systems, communication and doctors’ back-end programs.
Infotainment terminals enable patients to access entertainment and productivity apps and maintain a certain degree of productivity even during their hospital stay. Communication is vital in patient satisfaction. Not only can patients keep in touch with their family, but first and foremost they can reach the nurses and doctors in real time. This often allows nurses to provide necessary recommendations and help without having to be physically present in the room. Patients benefit from such interactions by maintaining a high level of independence, self-sufficiency, and improved awareness through timely communication with their caregivers.
Self-service attributes to patient satisfaction when patients can order meals after consulting the physician’s dietary recommendations, access online shopping, or control connected curtains, beds, and lighting.
Providers reduce preventable readmissions with the help of educational videos and slide shows that explain the necessary details a patient should be aware of after discharge. Such easily accessible, personalized educational videos and interactive programs help patients understand their conditions and alarming symptoms. Patients can revisit the information, conduct online research, and ask their physicians timely questions on side effects, allergies, etc.
Combined, these capabilities create an all-new patient experience, with an aware and engaged patient sure to give their hospital stay a high rating.
For the bedside computers to deliver their promise and serve multiple purposes, several obstacles must be overcome.
Interoperability. First, the computers must be able to speak the legacy language and be compatible with the older equipment. Many systems must be linked at the bedside to serve the doctors, so the support for legacy equipment is critical.
Connectivity. Health information exchange (HIE) allows the healthcare providers exchange clinical information across a region, community or country. Besides the HIEs, connectivity is also the wired and wireless connection options. In a perfect scenario, a medical computer installed at bedside should contain as little wiring as possible, to ensure safety and protection from electrical hazards. From this perspective, computers that come with Power-over-Ethernet capability are ergonomic and cost-effective solutions.
Hardware. Computers that serve a dual purpose at patient bedside must be powerful enough to run the resource-hungry EHR programs, yet easy-to-use for the patients. Hence, such technology calls for high-quality components, long product lifecycle, low maintenance costs and low fail rate to prove their value to healthcare facilities that can not afford to replace computers too often.
Safety. Safety certifications such as ingress protection, CDC guidelines and other must be in place for a multipurpose computer installed at the patient bedside. Moreover, with the hospital acquired infections being a serious liability and readmission risk, computers must be easy to disinfect, or better yet, antimicrobial. Plastic casing and touchscreen in regular touch devices are infested with pathogens. Consumer grade touchscreens can not withstand proper disinfection, so an antimicrobial coating on touch screens and a sturdy casing that withstands disinfection with chemical solutions are a must for bedside terminals.
Security. Since dual-purpose computers are used by multiple users, the adequate data protection is necessary. Patients are becoming increasingly cautious about data privacy while doctors and nurses can’t spend too much time on complex password-reliant authorization procedures every time they need to access patient records from a bedside computer. Yet, a data breach is a serious liability under HIPAA. Therefore, medical computers must provide solid data protection mechanisms – encryption, secure user authentication with biometric readers, RFID readers, or Smart Card readers, access restriction to sensitive data, remote location and disk wiping in case of a theft. Such stringent data protection requirements call for the integration of the advanced authentication mechanisms into the build of the computer (integrated smart card or RFID reader and biometric reader).
Such computers can not be consumer versions of mobile devices running Android or iOS. Only Windows or Linux are capable of providing the complete compatibility with the security software and remote access solutions used in healthcare. Patients must feel assured that their records are accessed only by the personnel with a legitimate need to know.
Cost. The affordability of dual-purpose health IT systems is often a deal breaker, where the cost of ownership, maintenance, and fail rate must meet the industry expectations. Medical equipment is more durable than consumer electronics. Therefore, medical computers must be at par with the other equipment to provide the durability and 24/7 uptime for years to come.
When the above requirements are met, integration of dual-purpose All-in-One computers in hospital rooms is cost-effective, while its benefits are generous. Cybernet tracks the vital needs of the healthcare industry in real time, so we build our medical computers aiming to exceed our clients’ expectations.