Tag Archives: medical all-in-one computers

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3 Ways to Automate Tedious Paper Processes in Hospitals

Nurses and doctors often voice the desire to go paperless. A recent report from International Data Corporation shows that about 40 percent of healthcare institutions have implemented paper reduction processes to operate a little greener. Although these efforts have improved a hospital’s environmental footprint, the costs of paper, ink, and daily printing are still skyrocketing. Who would have thought behind all the sophisticated medical procedures that paper processes are still expensive? Well, we’re here to provide some methods of solving perpetual paper problems that hospitals face consistently. The answers lie in technology.

Anesthesiology Enhanced with a Fanless Medical Computer

An anesthesia record is simply an account of drugs administered, procedures followed, and patient responses. Documenting it requires frequent sampling of data to ensure the patient is subdued during surgery. We’re sure millions of anesthesia administrations happen annually—one anesthesia paper record for every administration can add up over time. Plus, If you’ve ever seen an anesthesiology record for a patient, it’s almost like reading a difficult foreign language backwards. We trust in an anesthesiologist to read their own handwriting—as the rest of us may not be able to—but when transcribing it from the page to the screen as the common practice is today, that’s never a perfect two-step process. It’s basically doing double work, recording the results on paper and then entering that into the computer. Not only that, but the monitoring process is time-intensive and takes too much attention away from the patient. Wouldn’t it be nice to just track anesthesia with a computer directly? Ah, but there’s one problem. Regular computers aren’t allowed in an operating room during anesthesiology administration for surgery. That requires a dust-free environment to protect the patient, so an EMR system with fans wouldn’t do—unless you’re using a fanless medical computer.

The dual advantage of these computers is they protect the patient and they also streamline data sampling during anesthesiology administration, removing the paper process altogether. We’ve heard of use cases how some anesthesiologists were highly relieved that the process for data sampling was instant and didn’t need transcription—their computer did all the work and it saved them time. Not only does this save time, but it also allows the anesthesiologist to focus more on the patient, rather than on data entry. Suddenly, the tedious and error-prone process of paper data sampling turns into a process handled solely by the anesthesiology application. Imagine a stack of paper one million sheets high, one for every anesthesia operation done annually in a hospital and suddenly the savings are clear. 

Interoperability Still a Concern

Three surveys released in 2015 performed by researchers from the Office of the National Coordinator point to improved interoperability among hospital data systems. However, transmitting records from one EHR system to another was the least “improved-upon” function—clearly, efforts in improving interoperability have been made, but there’s still room to grow. So naturally, nurses and physicians resort to printing out records. Consider that printing out records consistently could lead to a drain on time and money—we shudder at how much ink still costs today. But the fact remains that there are still paper-heavy processes because of systems that don’t play nice with each other.

Large EMR systems, like Epic or Cerner, eliminate interoperability issues by bringing multiple applications and processes under one software. But in order for these complex software systems to work properly, you need a medical grade all in one computer that is compliant with their requirements. The high interoperability features of these software packages generally operate seamlessly, but it takes a computer powerful enough to run them. It’s not realistic to remove paper processes entirely—sometimes jotting down a note doesn’t really need a computer system—but we’re sure you can see a reduction in administrative costs from using the right kind of system coupled with high-interoperability software.

Registration Woes End with a Medical Grade Tablet

Paperwork—a dreaded life requirement that everyone faces at some point. It’s reported from some sources that patient registration on paper costs healthcare 45 billion dollars annually. Admissions packets average around 14 sheets of paper—multiply that per new patient, per day, and suddenly that price makes a lot of sense. Millions of hospital registrations happen annually, and with each paper-based registration, errors can be introduced and set procedures can lengthen registration time, and costs continue to climb. 

To specifically reduce administrative costs (and save the environment), patients and medical staff can all benefit from using a medical grade tablet so the process of entering patient information and storage is immediate. Attack one of the higher expenses in healthcare by using a tablet for administrative uses, reducing paper usage, curtailing ink usage, and even ensuring fewer errors with proper registration software. Plus, the medical grade tablet’s easy-to-clean screen and antimicrobial housing keep germs at bay inside of hospitals and doctors’ offices. Unfortunately, that doesn’t take the work part out of paperwork, but we’re sure some folks like taking the good over the bad. 

The way to a paperless future lies within technology; by using the right kind of medical grade all in one computer, your institution can see less of an investment in paper, ink, and costly printer repairs while also ensuring patients get the best available healthcare. In short, go green and save some green. Contact us to learn more.

 

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3 Ways Medical Grade Computers Make Surgery Safer

It’s clear that surgical mistakes—however minor they may be—are still prevalent on surgical tables and still cause significant health problems. You can easily get plenty of statistics online to verify some frequencies of surgical accidents. From problems of communication and preparation, to complete blunders like operating on the wrong limb or side of a patient, surgical mistakes are costly for everyone and can cause a medical practitioner to lose their license. That’s why it’s important to operate alongside a medical computer so that mistakes are reduced, whatever the cause. Here are three common mistakes that can happen in surgery that can be reduced with the use of a medical computer.

Use a Medical Computer to Track Items

Nearly 6 thousand patients per year leave the operating room table with leftover surgical equipment still inside them; a majority of these foreign objects are sponges that can cause painful medical symptoms and result in patient death if not handled properly. Some patients leave the table with surgical instruments still inside them. For standard surgical procedures, these kinds of mistakes shouldn’t happen, but to err is human and these mistakes are still a costly problem in operating rooms.

For the betterment of surgical procedures, it’s best if surgeons use medical computers to track RFID-enabled instruments being used in patients. As an instrument, sponge, or other supply is removed and used in operation, the computer can track its use. A surgeon can then refer to it after a long procedure and ensure all equipment is accounted for appropriately before wrapping up their procedure. The medical computer is there to catch what exhausted surgeons may miss when wrapping up a procedure.

Anesthesia Errors Happen All Too Often

Anesthesiologists are heavily responsible for ensuring a patient is unconscious before surgical procedures begin and remain safe throughout an operation. It’s one of the first steps in surgery that is incredibly important for the well-being of the patient during an operation. However, mistakes can easily happen even at this early stage of the operation. Anesthesia awareness is a very real result of not administering enough anesthesia, and it can cause long-term psychological damage to patients. Approximately 40 thousand Americans experience anesthesia awareness every year. Other common errors are just as scary—too much anesthesia can lead to a coma or brain injury. Unsatisfactory patient monitoring can lead to unsafe oxygen levels. Whatever the cause of the mistakes of the anesthesia, a small mishap can lead to profound negative results.

Anesthesiologists benefit from using a medical cart computer that is certified for near patient use to monitor vital signs and administer the proper dosages of anesthesia. This allows the anesthesiologist to be in the room during surgery, in what is often referred to as Computer Assisted Sedation (CAS). There is an entire field dedicated to controlling the state of the brain with anesthesia, and MRI studies have shown distinct differences in the conscious and unconscious mind and their relationship to specific parts of the brain. As practitioners use this and unravel more secrets of neurology, they can understand more about how the brain works and the proper dosages and practices of administering anesthesia. Not only would we see a proper reduction in accidents circling around administering too much or too little medicine, but using a medical computer to record patient vitals in real time would provide informatics for further research and understanding, as well as more automated processes for sedation.

Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, Wrong Patient

It’s true that impossible-sounding mistakes have occurred beyond operating room doors. Sometimes a surgical team proceeds with the wrong procedure on the wrong patient—often referred to as WSPEs (wrong site, procedure, and patient errors) or “never events”—and any number of poor workplace practices can point to reasons why these exist. Stories of some cases are available for research online, such as when a patient with a head injury had his leg operated on in error. The doctor mistook the patient for another. It’s mistakes like these that lead to malpractice and legal matters in the future.

Surgeons and medical staff are encouraged to use guides and checklists installed onto medical grade computers in the operating room that guide surgeons with every step of a procedure—even on agreeing which patient is being operated on. Plus, surgical procedures are typically arduous processes that can take from several hours to beyond an entire day to complete. The use of computers in surgery can assist a surgeon at any moment in time and guide them through a surgical procedure, however complex it may be. New technological advancements are pushing robots into surgery now, so after operating for 20 hours the surgeon may not need to use their hand to make incisions. Efforts to reduce human involvement in surgery are growing with this new technology. Hopefully as adoption of these sophisticated technologies increases, we will see a reduction in surgical mistakes.

It’s important to understand that surgical mistakes can’t be reduced to zero; they will still happen regardless of using a medical PC or not. Reduction is our goal when it comes to any problem in the medical realm that detracts from the well-being of people, but it starts with being prepared with the right technology. Contact us to learn more.

medical cart computers and medical computers

The Differences Between Antimicrobial Housings and Coatings

Per the CDC, Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs) infect one in 20 patients daily. This costs healthcare several billion dollars a year—no trifling matter. Some sources cite that UTIs and pneumonia are the top two most common HAIs, with pneumonia being the top infection that claims lives. It’s a scary thought to have one of the most infectious diseases on a surface nearby a patient going through surgery, and so every precaution must be taken to avoid patients getting infected via the unseen enemy. With such a bombardment of invisible microbes and pathogens capable of infection, it’s not possible to reduce all infections at all times. However, using what’s called an antimicrobial surface on all medical surfaces is a step in the right direction.

If you work in healthcare, you’ve likely seen some label or notifying mark on a medical cart saying the cart in use has an antimicrobial surface. It’s a no-brainer that the antimicrobial surface is a necessary feature with a medical cart computer in a hospital to reduce the spread of disease and infection. What you’re probably not aware of is that there isn’t just one method of making the plastics so they’re worthy of the antimicrobial label. There are several different materials considered antimicrobial. Silver, for example, is capable of reducing microbial activity, but we doubt that anyone would want to buy a medical computer housed in silver—that’s probably best reserved for surgical instruments. Constructing an antimicrobial surface takes a proper balance of finding the right materials for the work, the best method of creating the housing, and an option that doesn’t break the bank.

Plus, “antimicrobial” means something that discourages microbe growth in one way or another. A microbe is a general definition that fits plenty of microorganisms, but for the purposes of this blog, the definitions should be handled in a general fashion. Here are some methods of producing an antimicrobial surface for medical computers and why one should be considered over the other when in the market for new technology.

A Coating that Cleans Itself

A lot of medical grade computer manufacturers will label their hardware as antimicrobial or “self-cleaning,” but in the details of the product documentation, you’ll likely find it features an antimicrobial coating. This method to keep the computer surface clean has a huge disadvantage: it degrades over the span of several months. The coating flakes off when interacting with light, shedding off microbes as well. The constant disinfection that is required in a hospital setting will also degrade an antimicrobial coating. It’s true the product is self-cleaning, but only for the suggested timespan (likely offered in the documentation too). Plus, that doesn’t speak about the capability of inactivating microbes or discouraging growth. Another kind of coating is an application of silver nanoparticles or biocides, but much like the former, the coating wears off over time. This brings into question how effective a medical computer with a coating might be over the course of its lifespan—it could likely render the computer’s antimicrobial feature obsolete quickly.

The Antimicrobial Everlasting Housing

Medical computers with antimicrobial housings—not coatings—degrade less over time since there’s no “shedding.” There’s a superior method of producing an antimicrobial plastic for a computer: instead of using the short-term technology found with coatings that degrade over time, the best companies add an antimicrobial agent into the manufacturing process of the resin that lasts longer than a coating. The agent used not only discourages growth, it actually is highly toxic to microbes and bacteria. Instead of shedding off infections, they’re reduced on the surface of the plastic housing. It’s a more effective method of reducing microbe activity.

Beyond Coatings and Housings

For starters, the medical computers used nearby patients should be disinfected frequently. Plus, it helps to have a high ingress protection for frequent disinfections—over time, liquids can seep into the innards of equipment and shorten the expected lifetime of the computer. An IP65 rating means the front bezel is sealed against direct sprays, so the computer can be continuously cleaned without fear of shorting the internal components or wearing away anything protective. Beyond that, using hygiene toolkits and practicing constant hand hygiene are additional safety methods to ensure a reduction in HAIs. It is also important to note that a computer is rarely a stand alone device in a hospital setting. They are often mounted on medical carts or other equipment. It is important that the medical cart is antimicrobial as well, otherwise you aren’t really preventing the spread of anything.

Using the best technology with the most robust features in a hospital setting is the best way to guard your hospital or clinic against HAIs. An antimicrobial coating on a medical computer doesn’t last as long as the computer itself—it’s best to find more sophisticated technology with stronger features, particularly a computer with antimicrobial housing with agents mixed into the resin of its plastic. Contact us to learn more.

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4 Questions to Ask When Searching for a New Medical Grade Computer

What is the difference between “healthcare grade” and “medical grade,” and what problems might arise if one is chosen over another? It seems like such a small thing. What’s in a word? A lot, when you break it down. The distinction between healthcare grade and medical grade computers is important, and here’s why: medical grade suggests a higher standard for a healthcare setting.

Computer systems that are marketed as medical grade are less problematic because they’re more feature-rich than healthcare grade. For instance, is a healthcare grade computer housed in an antimicrobial casing? Does this healthcare grade computer protect against infection, ingress, and the spread of disease? Has it been tested for radiation and electric emissions for near patient use? By the end of this blog, you will be equipped with the knowledge to know what questions you need to ask, and how to verify the validity of a vendor’s response.

The IEC60601-1 Certification – Get Tested

To be truly medical grade, a computer must meet IEC 60601-1 certification. More than just an alphanumerical string, IEC60601-1 is a necessary standard that protects the lives of patients. It details a number of separate sub-standards to protect patients from electric shock, radiation, machine interference (pinching), and other hazards. Some manufacturers may tout the expansive standard, but what they don’t reveal is their product meets only one sub-standard instead of the entire spectrum of standards within IEC60601-1. So if a corporation touts its new computer as IEC60606-1 compliant, be sure to investigate what that means.

True medical grade computers have certifications for the entire spectrum of standards for IEC60601-1 and you can easily verify the testing by asking a manufacturer for their certification. This isn’t a short document either. True 60601-1 certification documents are extensive. It’s also important to check the year of the standard—if a computer is certified for the IEC60601-1 standard that was defined several years ago, it may be best to find a product with a more recent certification.

Don’t be fooled by the term compliant vs. certified either. The most accepted definitions of these terms: compliance means the specifications of a product simply meet a standard. Certification means the product passed a set of rigorous, difficult tests and is a step above compliance, earning the tested product a certificate or label. The problem with compliance is that any corporation can self-claim their product is compliant with almost anything. Unless an independent 3rd party testing facility has verified that a computer meets all specifications it isn’t 60601-1 certified.

Fanless Designs, IP65, & Antimicrobial Technology

True medical grade computers not only meet rigorous standards but are feature-rich and better equipped to solve a wider range of problems that can arise in a hospital. Healthcare-Acquired Infections (HAIs) are still prevalent pests within hospital doors, and computers with more robust features perform better in terms of safety for everyone. Were you aware that HAIs can spread through a computer’s fan? Dust is more hazardous than we realize in hospitals and one lone dust fragment can turn infectious to any patient. Fanless medical computers are built to protect the patient (and staff!) by reducing airborne particle spread—something required for clean room operation.

Given the need for constant disinfection, IP65 ratings are also extremely important. Would you rather settle for a computer that protects from limited dust ingress and liquid sprays (IP54) or a computer that is protected against total dust ingress and more powerful liquid sprays (IP65)? Exposed bezels aren’t just breeding grounds for bacteria, but they can be ingress points for chemical disinfectants, which can lead to damage of internal components. Its important for a computer to have an IP65 rating, especially in a hospital setting, so units can be properly cleaned and disinfected.

Which brings us to antimicrobial technology. Some “healthcare edition” computers don’t even offer antimicrobial properties. The models that do aren’t all created equally. Because hospital disinfectants are so powerful, it isn’t uncommon for computers treated with an antimicrobial coating to degrade over time. In addition to cleaning a unit, these disinfectants can strip away the antimicrobial coating as well. You should look for a computer that has antimicrobial properties injected directly into the plastic molding and has been independently tested to maintain those properties over several thousand cleanings.

How Long of a Product Life Cycle?

What’s the life cycle of the computer in question? The best medical grade all in one systems on the market have a product cycle of 3 to 5 years—significantly longer than commercial-grade brand computers which average about 1.5 years. Project deployment for these systems can sometimes take years as hospital departments shed older computers and implement new ones over time. What if the purchased product isn’t available in that timespan? Will you be ready to face the potential pitfalls of mixing hardware within a computer project deployment?

We’ve heard of problems arising from mixing hardware in a deployment in the past. Even small configurations—changing a video card, altering the aspect ratio of a monitor, or even reducing the number of ports on a computer—can drastically change how mobile EMR software operates for the end-user. Differences in support, operating systems, and driver conflicts can sometimes be nasty roadblocks for interoperability if your hospital has a mixed project deployment. The best practices for a hospital are to purchase an identical set of computers for their entire project timeline, and that means ensuring the product life cycle is more extensive than the competition.

 

We hope these questions serve as a basis for understanding what’s on the market and how important it is to be armed with the knowledge necessary to ask the right questions. The best computers in a hospital setting are true medical grade all in one systems because of their superior features that safeguard the lives of a hospital’s entire population, whether patient or practitioner. Contact us to learn more.

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3 Methods of Reducing HAIs in Hospitals

The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has seen a decline in HAIs (Healthcare-Acquired Illnesses) in the past recent years. For instance, invasive MRSA infections have seen a 36-percent reduction between 2009 and 2014 per the health.gov website. That’s the result of a combined effort of following the specific action plan available on the site. However, healthcare as a whole can always make stronger efforts to reduce HAI contraction frequency. There are many tech-related problems that still contribute to the number of HAIs (and related deaths) that can be fixed by ensuring your hospital technology meets the grade. Here’s how to combat them with the tech in your hospital.

Dust-Free is a Must

One of the contributing factors for HAIs is something we can’t see very well—dust. Dust is more dangerous than we think, but it’s important we unpack what that term means. A large percentage of dust consists of dormant, decaying, and live microscopic particles, often particles that can be hazardous to patients. A healthy individual’s immune system is capable of protecting against stray floating particles, but to hospital patients under surgery or with compromised immune systems, many precautions need to be taken. One single infected particle from the air settling inside of a patient with an open wound can turn a hospital visit into an infection that can spread to the masses.

Experts in the field stress that fanless medical computers are important for hospital use but are mandatory for surgical procedures and anesthesiology efforts. A fanless design is a proper feature on a medical computer that significantly reduces the risk of HAIs and airborne infections. A computer without a fan intake won’t liberally spread dust mites and bacteria through the air. Besides, fans are considered heavy failure points for computers. A fanless construction won’t perform the impossible by eliminating all dust, but it opens up more possibilities for medical practitioners—like running the medical computer at the bedside to record a surgical video. Regardless of the use of the medical computer, a fanless design is superior for cleanliness. It boosts device longevity too.

HAIs Go Beyond Dust Into Microbes

Fanless designs are great for clean environments, but there’s still a presence of pestilence that we aren’t able to see. We invite you to take a closer look at any surface with a high-powered microscope to see what dangers lurk on nearly every surface in a hospital. Microbes thrive on all surfaces, especially surfaces that are frequently touched thousands of times per day. A computer on wheels that nurses take room to room is no stranger to touch, so this kind of computer needs a little more oomph to protect everyone against the smallest of threats.

Every true medical computer has an antimicrobial housing with a resin mixed into the plastic to help reduce HAIs. Fanless design is a necessary feature for a clean-room environment, but an antimicrobial housing is that extra “oomph” feature that a proper medical computer should have. It discourages microbe spread and growth. HAIs can be reduced further with these integrated features you’ll find in computer on wheels.

Spray Directly on the Medical Computer

It’s easy to be in a mindset of “constant cleaning” when in a hospital. Typically there are hand sanitizer stations at every patient door and at nurse stations, so seeing disinfectant everywhere helps to remind everyone to wash up often. Even with strong efforts in keeping clean hands, infections are still possible. Computers on wheels are highly frequented by hands (especially those with touchscreens), so disinfecting the computer is a no-brainer for physicians and staff. The problem lies with the computer itself—not all of them are built to take constant sprays. One sudden flick of the wrist could send a jet of industrial disinfectant onto a capacitor, and suddenly you’ve turned a cleaning problem into an expensive IT problem. That’s why you should look for a medical grade computer with an IP65 rating.

An Ingress Protection rating of IP65 is prime for a reduction in HAIs because you can spray directly on the sealed screen without worry of damaging the components of the computer. Besides, bacteria have an affinity for hiding in the nooks and crannies of unsealed bezels, reducing the effectiveness of a direct disinfection. It’s just a superior solution to tier-1 computers found in a retail store.

 

A high frequency of Healthcare-Acquired Illnesses in a hospital or clinic puts the cleanliness standards behind doors into question. It’s important to be “clean conscious” at all times when working with people, but ensuring that all computers have these features can reduce HAI frequency and add an extra layer of protection for everyone, whether medical staff or patient. Take a stance against the microscopic culprits and arm your hospital with the best medical computers on the market today. Contact us to learn more.

 

surgical monitor and medical computer system

3 Screen Technologies in Hospitals that Can Alleviate Problems

Not all screens are created equal, and that can be easily said for technology in a hospital. Screen tech should vary depending on the purpose the screen in question serves. Some monitors are used in surgical procedures, others are used heavily with EMR software, and some are even used by patients. If you don’t have the proper screen for your work in the hospital, it can affect staff workplace effectiveness and even patient satisfaction. If insufficient screen technology is a pain point for your medical facility, we’ve got the lowdown on what kind of hardware is best for what hospital positions.

Surgeons Need a Surgical Monitor

Medical error is found to be the third leading cause of death in the US; that statistic translates to about 250 thousand deaths annually according to Johns Hopkins. This statistic doesn’t delve into the specific reasons why an error occurs outside of human nature, but the best approach we can have is assuming this prevalent problem can be mitigated from all angles. One of the methods we can employ to safeguard against medical error is ensuring the proper technology is applied to the right medical procedure. Surgery, for example. Surgeons need excellent vision. If a surgeon begins an invasive procedure like an endoscopy, it’s important they’re able to see the imagery they’re receiving from the surgical camera clearly. Surgeons require technology beyond what’s available in stores that gives them instant feedback from their surgical cameras with high-quality imagery.

An all-in-one computer with a surgical monitor can reveal minute details of a patient’s condition for the most accurate diagnoses. The combined higher resolution, stronger brightness measurements, and unmatched clarity give medical practitioners the edge in identifying illnesses and hard-to-see symptoms so signs of a disease are clearer to see. Surgical monitors on all-in-one computers are key to proper diagnoses and effective operations. What you might find in a store doesn’t compare to the technical advantage you’ll find with a surgical monitor. With this technology, we can reduce medical error and misdiagnosis.

PCAP Technology on an All-in-One Computer

EMR software has grown in complexity since its inception. It’s also become more user-friendly by incorporating touch-screens and large interfaces to navigate the functions embedded within the software. However, the wrong touch screen technology can be a little for end users. Some touch screens lack clarity and features for medical professionals to use, so it’s best to employ what’s called projected capacitive technology.

A medical computer system using a projected capacitive (PCAP) touch screen is ideal for common use in a hospital because of the clearer display. It’s easier on the eyes because of the built-in technology and is more responsive than older touch screen tech. It allows for multiple-touch input so medical staff can fully manipulate imagery by zooming and rotating. This kind of technology is also more durable so it lasts longer than other touch screens.

Making Patient Engagement Computers More User Friendly

Sometimes using a mouse and keyboard isn’t feasible in specific computer stations behind hospital doors. A regular computer isn’t user-friendly with a keyboard and mouse since they’re cumbersome to control in patient rooms. Ever tried using a mouse and keyboard while laying down? It’s awkward. Patients don’t always have the strength or ability to sit up and use a computer, nor is there always a place to store a keyboard and mouse.

That’s why it’s ideal for any patient engagement computer to have a touchscreen. It’s a cost-effective solution for the patient bedside, and it’s easy for both medical practitioners and patients to control the computer. Medical practitioners can still use medical gloves for input, allowing them to use the computer to do charting or check patient test results. They can even share images like x-ray results with patients bedside. For the patient, a touchscreen allows them the freedom to navigate the internet, make video calls to family or turn on a movie.

 

By using the proper screen technology—whether it’s on a medical computer system with a surgical monitor or a patient engagement computer—we can reduce the frequency of medical error, misdiagnosis, and discomfort for all parties in the hospital. We still have a long journey ahead of us to see these problems reduced to almost zero frequency, but by understanding the primary ways to address these problems through better technology, we’ve got a promising start. Contact us today to see how you can start reducing medical errors so your hospital or clinic improves.

 

Advantages of Powered and Non-Powered Medical Carts

Any hospital or clinic will have a range of technology products to assist in patient care. Sometimes a hospital’s budget restraints can’t afford the latest in technology, so they opt for more financially viable solutions. Other times the needs of a medical staff might outweigh the potential high costs for equipment, so purchasing decisions might anchor to more sophisticated, familiar technology. The same is true for medical carts. When browsing for medical cart options, it’s important to note the positive aspects for each powered and non-powered medical cart. Here’s a look at both options in detail. We hope this serves as a guide to make a decision as to what’s right for your hospital and staff.

Advantages of Non-Powered Medical Carts

A non-powered cart meant for use as a workstation on wheels is going to be substantially cheaper than it’s powered counterpart. Battery-less carts with wheels and a few functioning devices (key lockable drawers, VESA mounts, etc.) can range in price depending on the quality of the build and the brand, but ballpark figures usually run under two thousand dollars for a strong solution. Hospitals and clinics looking to buy in bulk will definitely save in the long run when choosing a non-powered medical cart. Plus, since they have fewer components and no internal batteries, they weigh much less—reducing overall fatigue when a nurse pushes a cart around for several hours. They’re more maneuverable, have slimmer profiles, use fewer cables, receive power from the all-in-one computer installed on it, and there’s no bulky batteries—which, per the FDA, have been known to catch fire recently. They’re safer options because there’s no involving of electricity, no risk of abusing battery power, and can fit in tighter spaces. Typically, medical computers with hot swappable batteries are ideal on top of non-powered carts so you can navigate hospital hallways without worrying about wires, where they’re connected, and how long the battery life will last—especially if the mounted computer upon it has triple hot swappable batteries. A non-powered cart doesn’t need to be plugged in for a recharge. Instead, if the computer installed on it has swappable batteries, set the drained batteries aside to charge and install a freshly-charged set—they’re more stable than the battery technology in powered carts. Lastly, fewer components and functioning devices mean easier troubleshooting if a problem ever arises, meaning fewer IT requests.

Advantages of Powered Medical Carts

Powered carts have increased functionality with electronic locking drawers, built-in medication dispensers, the ability to power peripherals like barcode scanners or printers, powered height adjustment, LEDs that illuminate the keyboard and cart path, control interfaces, and other components that are better solutions for hospitals that want more mobile functionality.  Plenty of powered carts use different “modes” of operation to facilitate their intended use—”pharmacy” mode for instance on some keep all drawers unlocked so medications are easier to retrieve as someone makes their rounds to distribute to patients. Several carts have motor-powered height adjustment controls that can raise or lower the cart just by holding a button. You can select from a wider range of medical grade computers with a powered cart since a majority of the marketed computers don’t have hot swappable batteries—a necessary feature for non-powered carts. A powered cart is a more expensive option, but the functionality from the powered cart alone makes up for the difference in price.

Whichever type of cart is more fitting for your budget or hospital needs, ensure what is mounted to the cart is also sufficient for your rounds and patients. A medical cart without a proper medical grade computer could pose a potential risk when used near patients. For non-powered workstations, a medical all-in-one with hot swap batteries can help save some money while still giving you the functionality for bedside charting and other tasks. For powered carts, any medical grade computer could suffice, provided that computer meets the other requirements for use.  Neither choice is right or wrong. It just depends on the unique needs of your particular project. For more information, feel free to contact us.

hot swappable battery on a workstation with wheels

Safety Awareness in Hospitals with Workstations on Wheels

Sometimes the smallest details of safety awareness in hospitals can prevent disaster. Fires can start in the blink of an eye. Tripping hazards may not be as apparent until someone unfortunately falls victim to a few dangling wires. It’s important to be aware of what could turn into a problem before the problem arises. There’s the obvious hazards like spills that need to be cleaned immediately, or frayed wires of a hospital appliance that need to be replaced. Those with a keen eye and a constant awareness of safety can spot hidden hazards, however.

Medical Cart Batteries Have Caught Fire

Recently, the FDA announced a lot of medical cart batteries have been malfunctioning, catching fire, or exploding in hospitals. The FDA received several complaints about these hazards in a 6-month timespan. They’re batteries used in crash carts, point of care medical devices, and medication dispensing carts as well. Many sources online reveal that battery fires in medical carts are very difficult to extinguish—they require burial to put out the flames! The batteries in question were certified and met all safety guidelines, begging the question of what’s causing malfunctions. It’s likely the case that the capacity and age of the battery are the culprit factors, so being aware of the capacity and how old a battery pack may be are strong methods of avoiding a possible explosion. If a medical cart and its huge battery are reaching senior status, it’s time to upgrade for the sake of efficiency and safety.

One way to overcome this safety hazard is to purchase a non-powered medical cart and pair it with a computer that has hot swappable batteries. There are a number of benefits to this type of solution. In addition to mitigating the fire hazard risk, non-powered carts are lighter weight and more maneuverable making life easier for nurses and other end users. Also, batteries can be taken out and replaced with backups while the computer is still running, allowing for 24/7 operability without the need to plug a cart into an outlet to charge. Because the batteries are regularly being swapped out of the computer to recharge, if there’s any sign of battery corrosion, battery expansion, or just a failure to hold a charge, the battery can be properly disposed of and replaced with a spare. Plus, the hot swappable battery is smaller than those found in medical carts. Since the medical cart computer relies on three batteries of lower capacity to operate properly, they aren’t drained as often and are less susceptible to overheating, explosions, fires, or other battery hazards.

Clean Up Clutter with a Workstation on Wheels

A common hazard listed by Department of Health and Human Services in their safety document is something we’re all capable of creating: clutter. Computers are often notorious hubs of clutter, especially when coupled with several peripherals like printers, barcode scanners and cords connecting a monitor to a computer.  Cable sleeving is a viable prevention strategy to defuse hazards, but a better solution is to minimize on cabling as much as possible.

Enter the best solution for reducing cable clutter: an all-in-one medical computer. It’s easier to reduce cable clutter if your medical computer system has fewer cables! Some units can be equiped with integrated fingerprint scanners and RFID readers, eliminating the need for 3rd party peripherals, thus eliminating even more cord clutter. Plus, with these sorts of computers they can be VESA-mounted into a workstation on wheels—the system’s few cables can be routed through cable management panels so they’re out of sight, out of mind, and off the floor. If you couple them with a wireless keyboard and mouse or use a touch-screen keyboard (very common on all-in-one medical cart computers), you’ve basically enhanced the safety of the workstation on wheels.

Protect Against the Unseen Hazard

The increase in computer usage for hospitals has been fantastic for productivity and other reasons, but research has shown a rise in VRE, MRSA, and PSAE, three common bacteria that are transferred easily through keyboard and computer contact. Infections from these bacteria are the least apparent hazards in comparison to battery fires and loose wires,  so it’s important to be aware of all that is commonly touched.

However, the solution to these bacteria problems can go a step further. Medical computers that are rated to be water and dust resistant (also known as IP65) can be disinfected freely and often by spraying directly on their touch screens. Also, if your keyboard is IP68-rated you can actually submerse it in water and spray on it directly to disinfect it heavily since keyboards see a lot of interaction from several individuals. In addition, medical grade computers will also often have an antimicrobial housing to further prevent the spread of bacteria and germs.

Keeping safety awareness in the back of your mind is ideal in any situation, but especially in a hospital where certain computer hazards can arise either from aged medical cart batteries, unkempt wires from poorly-installed computers, or bacteria that can infect several people. If you would like to find out more information about how medical grade computers are safer for your patients you can contact Cybernet here.

patient engagement technology and medical tablets

EHR and it’s Evolution into CHR: A Critical Look at Cutting-Edge Technology in Healthcare

Epic CEO, Judy Faulker, recently expressed her view how Electronic Health Records are evolving into Comprehensive Health Records—a term that evaluates more than just a specific window of sampling an individual’s health from doctor visits. CHR is a term that may be invented as the new EHR, incorporating more data and analysis of a patient that stems from their in-clinic or hospital visits and their time outside of a medical facility too. Foraging into a new technology frontier that implies a near-constant evaluation of a person’s well-being may sound like an answer that physicians have been looking for, but anyone who is ever a patient (all of us) could be under the scrutiny of patient tracking technology that could be always on, always tracking. Yes, the benefit is physicians can understand the entire gamut of a patient’s health by seeing comprehensive snapshots of activity from day to day, but do the costs outweigh the benefits? Are we already in the pathway of the “Big Data” steamroller? Let’s take a critical look.

Are We Already Headed Down this Path?

Many individuals are already familiar with utilizing in-home tracking devices and food intake monitoring, so the “at home” concept of tracking health isn’t new. Wearable fitness trackers coupled with diet and exercise apps are near ubiquitous in society today. There are also several medical grade devices like blood sampling devices or blood pressure monitors to see how trackable vitals are measured outside of the doctor’s office and clinics. But now that CHR is becoming a reality for EHR corporations, there are implications to consider about how this data would be collected into a central repository. If CHR will incorporate the data from consumer-grade devices into an EMR system, how will this data transfer occur? Would EHR software developers have to build integrations for the hundreds of various fitness apps and wearables that are available on the consumer market.  Would we need to entrust app developers and wearable manufacturers with the responsibility of building those integrations? We could see EHR software developers create their own consumer apps and wearables, but that raises even more questions. Would software developers even want to enter the arena of app development and medical device manufacturing? And if they did, how do get a patient to willingly utilize something they may not want to?

CHR and Big Data: How Accurate is the Information?

A patient may be under the scrutiny of a doctor for monitoring their food intake for diabetes, and it’s likely a common thing some individuals may “cheat” on their diet—maybe someone once logged a dinner of chicken and vegetables when instead they indulged a large burger and fries. That second iced mocha of the day might get “forgotten” when it comes time to update their food log. The same propensity to “cheat” when recording time spent at the gym lifting weights, or doing yoga can creep in if we are entrusting the patient to log their own activity. So manual input data needs to be examined and taken lightly if it’s to be wrapped into CHR. Plus, there’s the question of accuracy of wearable devices—many aren’t as devices used in hospitals, clinics and doctors offices. How accurate is a pedometer? How accurate is a sleep tracking device you can purchase off the shelf? Can that be incorporated into a medical health profile? And furthermore, even if the comprehensive data is used for analysis for health, can that be considered an invasion of privacy?

Is the CHR Data Secure Enough?

With potentially thousands of different devices tracking different variables such as food intake, steps taken, heart rate, and other measurable factors, there’s a concern of how all that data might be transferred to EMR systems. Since hospitals have begun implementing BYOD practices among their staff, securing has become a massive point of concern. Medical grade computers are specifically designed with a number of privacy safeguards built into them to protect patient data. Now imagine the security risks if data is being transferred from millions of unsecured consumer devices. We’ve discussed at length in the past that patient medical records are even more valuable on the black market than an individual’s financial data. Now you have to consider millions of new vulnerabilities for hackers to try and exploit. So how would a transfer happen? Wireless transfer? Patient web portals? If CHR is to incorporate an unknown breadth of data, will HIPAA laws need to be rewritten to account for vulnerabilities that can’t be controlled by a healthcare facility or a doctor’s office?

CHR Data and the Implications of Insurance

Insurance companies evaluate a patient’s medical history gauge what their premiums should be. It’s a given that if someone smokes, healthcare is more expensive for them. If we are to enter a new era of healthcare data, can insurance companies utilize more comprehensive methods of evaluating someone’s health? If a patient claims that they run three times a week, and yet their pedometer shows no activity outside of walking, will that reflect on their bill? How far does the willingness go to track aspects of someone’s life? CHR is prepped to track not only how we treat ourselves, but our social lives too. Will all these medical and social effects on our well-being be reflected in insurance companies and their premiums? While the intent of CHR would be to compile the most comprehensive view of an individuals health, the information could very easily be used to create more “high risk” pools by insurance companies, and could even price some users out of the market completely.

These are just a handful of questions to ask as the encroaching concept of CHR starts to hit EMR companies. They’re evolving, perhaps for the better of our lives and health, but there are strong implications of privacy, accuracy, security, and unfortunately impact on wallets too. For now, EMR systems have not yet seen that evolution, and quite frankly they shouldn’t until these questions are answered. We’d love to hear your thoughts as well. Please comment below and let us know what you think about CHR.


 

medical computer systems and hot swappable battery functions

3 Ways Hospital Networks Can Impact Patient Care and How to Combat Them

No hospital network is perfect. An entire infrastructure for patient information is at the whim of Murphy’s Law unfortunately, and one glitch in an entire system can throw off the operations of a hospital in the blink of an eye, costing a chunk of productivity time, money, and the worst—patient safety and health. Online sources point to previous cases of such flops, like the Martin Health System in Stuart, Florida. Their infrastructure recently had an internal hardware failure, setting back hospital EMR records for about two days. Although network systems and their medical computers were restored as quickly as IT could manage the problem, patient care significantly dropped and plenty of vulnerabilities were introduced. Here are a few problems hospitals face when entire networks turn haywire and solutions to minimize mishaps.

Power Outages Cause More Than Just Downtime

Let’s say you’re a medical professional making rounds for about 12 patients, suddenly the power drops out, and the emergency generators have failed! The patient infotainment systems in each patient room have shut down, EMR systems have stopped tracking, medical devices won’t operate, and you’re in the middle of a nightmare. It’s a more frequent problem than you would think. Hospital operations must continue even in downtime, so you’ll need to alter all your work to manual processes. To give you an idea of the severity of a power outage in a hospital, online sources report some patients at a major hospital were on electronic respirators that failed during an outage, and hospital staff attempted rescues by using manual respirators. Unfortunately, the manual efforts weren’t enough to sustain the patients’ well being.

So what’s the best way to combat the potential hazards of a full power outage? Medical computer systems with a hot swappable battery function can ensure you’re not without power. If you’re operating a respirator with a medical computer system that needs continuous power, using a system with sustainable battery life in the mishap of a failed power infrastructure can save lives. Even having a medical computer with an internal backup battery can be enough to bridge the gap between a power outage and getting backup generators online. Compromises in patient care won’t happen if your computer hardware is equipped to run on internal batteries.

Network Failures Cause a Wealth of Different Problems

Network infrastructures aren’t perfect, and at times components can fail—refer to the first paragraph about Murphy’s Law.  If you’re operating EMR software on a consumer-grade computer and the wireless network card fails, the problem will need to be diagnosed to take time away from patient care. This forces medical staff to resort to manual documentation and charting—which can introduce human error. Patients may get delayed medication, incorrect dosage, or the wrong medication because of a network hardware component failure. Compromises in patient care can happen simply because of the wrong hardware.

Ensuring your networked computers are equipped with proper wireless connectivity is one way to safeguard against network mishaps. First, it requires that the components of the computer are industrial-grade, made with high-quality transistors, diodes, and capacitors, to increase a Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) rating. Second, it’s best to utilize Intel-certified wireless network cards within your medical computer system to ensure high-quality connectivity in an environment where wireless communications are supremely important and likely to drop connection frequently. These two factors will reduce potential wireless hardware mishaps so patient care and data aren’t compromised.

Network Intrusions on your Medical Computer Systems Can be Devastating

Security in an online network shouldn’t be an afterthought; a single intrusion into a medical computer on a wireless network can introduce the wrong individuals onto a network, violating HIPAA regulations and compromising patient data for potentially thousands of people. Medical records actually sell for a pretty penny on the black market, more than credit card numbers, because people abuse them to get prescription drugs illegally. Plus, if there’s HIPAA violations it can cause a hospital between 50 to 100 thousand dollars per the severity of the violation—or it may end up shutting hospital doors.

To ensure patient safety and continued hospital operation, the solution is ensuring whatever medical computer systems you’re using have two-factor authentication protocols. Some states actually have TFA as a requirement. Plus, having a medical computer system with a Trusted Platform Module to encrypt the information is another layer of protection you can add so even if the internal hard drives are lost, stolen, or otherwise, the data on them can’t be easily read or retracted. Using a medical computer system with Imprivata Single-Sign On is one of the highest secure standards for medical professionals to safeguard information and make authentication easier than typing in huge, confusing passwords.

Disasters will happen in the medical world, but precaution can ensure fragile lives and important hospital operations aren’t sacrificed when mishaps strike. At Cybernet, we engineer our medical computers with these contingencies in mind. Ensure you’re protected by using the right medical computer systems to take care of patient needs—contact us today to learn more.