Tag Archives: medical computers

RFID tablet medical tablet

5 Ways Mobile Health Clinics Benefit from Medical-Grade Tablets

When most people think of medical care, they think of traditional care facilities such as hospitals and medical clinics. But times are changing, and the advent of new technology has freed healthcare facilities to move… literally. Mobile healthcare clinics are becoming increasingly common: able to travel to patients in rural locales or similar distant spots without surrendering the efficiency and accuracy of quality medical care. According to a recent article by Reuters, mobile healthcare accounted for over $23 billion in revenue in 2017, and that number only looks to expand in the future.

Medical-grade computers, especially tablets, can play a huge role in helping mobile health clinics more effectively treat their patients. As mHealth practices become increasingly prevalent and healthcare facilities weigh their options, it pays to understand what kinds of benefits one can derive from the right computer system. Here are a few benefits that medical-grade tablets can provide to mobile health clinics.

They’re Better Protected from Drops

Mobile health operations can’t always depend on the carefully controlled conditions one finds in a hospital or similar clinic. For example, a mobile tablet needs to be tougher and more durable than a commercial grade tablet. Mobile health clinics are vulnerable to many more bumps and jolts than stationary workspaces, and if an out-of-the-box tablet is dropped or jostled, it could suffer a great deal of damage. That in turn could severely affect the clinic’s ability to provide viable care by eliminating access to the computer’s data and analysis abilities. Mobile clinics lend themselves to more people handling the tablet as well. Patient registration, questionnaires or even accessing patient portals means a device might be handled by dozens of people per day. And patients aren’t always as careful with a device that isn’t theirs.

A rugged medical tablet should be tough enough to handle such drops. Ideally, it should be in compliance with military-grade specifications, allowing it to be dropped safely and endure similar bumps and jolts without damage. That ensures you’ll be able to use the tablet as needed and prevents the odd pothole or fumbling hands from turning a key part of your mobile clinic’s operation into an expensive paperweight.

Stop Germs from Spreading When You Travel

The spread of germs and illness from one patient to another is a serious concern for any healthcare organization. Hospitals and stationary clinics go to great lengths to curtail the spread of nosocomial pathogens (illnesses incurred directly from exposure at a hospital or clinic). That becomes much more difficult in a mobile health setting. The simple act of moving from place to place exposes staff members and patients alike to germs and similar illnesses, and mobile clinic staff who aren’t careful can inadvertently spread such contamination as they move from place to place.

This is especially problematic with mobile devices used in such locations. For example, studies from the National Institute of Health indicated that 80% of cell phones used by medical staff members carried some kind of bacterial pathogen on the surface. Tablets carry the same risks, since they are handled on a regular basis by hospital staff who spend a great deal of time in touch with contagious patients.

Medical tablet PCs can provide protection on that front. Specifically, tablets with an antimicrobial coating – or even better, antimicrobial properties in the resin of the case itself – can help repel germs and keep them from spreading from patient to patient as the mobile clinic goes about its rounds. In addition, tablets that are IP65 certified are protected against liquid or dust ingress, which means you can clean them with liquid disinfectant without compromising their operational capacity.

Telehealth Applications Bring Doctors Closer to Distant Patients

One of the central purposes of mobile clinics is to bring healthcare to people who might not be able to readily reach a stationary hospital. Whether it’s because they’re in a rural location far away from an established clinic, they lack the resources to travel there, or they’re sufficiently ill that reaching a hospital or similar location constitutes an undue burden on their health, a mobile clinic provides a ready answer by bringing equipment and personnel to them instead of the other way around.

Telehealth practices allow patients and doctors to connect from vast distances and provide efficient care via video teleconferencing and similar practices. For instance, the world’s first “virtual hospital” – Mercy Virtual Care Center in St. Louis – oversees care for almost 4,000 people living at home with chronic conditions. They, in turn, are connected to over 40 hospitals and 800 physicians in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, who can reach those distant patients via WiFi connections.

Medical grade tablets, with their light weight and easy portability, make an ideal way to establish such connections: allowing a patient to receive examinations, diagnoses, medical prescriptions and the like from doctors throughout an entire network of hospitals… all without leaving their bedrooms.

RFID and Barcode Scanners Streamline Data Management

Data management remains a serious concern for any medical organization, and such concerns loom all the larger in a mobile clinic. Bloodmobiles, for example, need to catalogue and keep track of the blood they collect, which involves a great deal of paperwork to make sure the samples are accurately catalogued.

Integrating such details into an electronic medical record (EMR) can be a painstaking and at times exhausting process. A recent New York Times articles stated that physicians can spend as much as half of their time on EMRs instead of catering for patients, which leads to a greater frequency of mistakes and increased burnout. Those factors are enhanced for mobile healthcare, which needs to ensure the data they gather is accurate and can be integrated into the EMRs of their entire network.

A tablet equipped with barcode scanners, radio frequency ID (RFID) tags, and similar features, can streamline the process of data management considerably.  To take the above example, a barcode scanner linked to a medical tablet can quickly and accurately enter the blood type, date and time of collection, and donor data simply by reading the barcode on the blood sample itself. That, in turn, can be relayed instantly back to the hospital or stationary clinic, allowing its seamless integration into the network’s EMRs. Hospital staff can then make use of the data immediately – without having to wait for the mobile clinic to “return to base” – and personnel are spared the effort of cataloging the data by hand.

Hot Swap Batteries Provide Constant Power

Anyone who’s owned a cell phone – which is pretty much everyone at this point – knows the feeling of helplessness when their device runs out of power. Mobile clinics can experience a similar drain on their equipment, which can be a considerable problem with limited electrical outlets and finite power. A mobile tablet won’t be very useful if it needs to be plugged in to retain power, and dealing with low battery levels can distract staff members from the patient care they should be engaged in.

A tablet with “hot swap” batteries can help solve this problem. Such units can swap batteries out while the power is turned on: replacing them with fresh units from a recharging station without forcing you to shut off the tablet. That, in turn, allows it to continue operating 24/7, ensuring that staff members can use it whenever and wherever it’s needed without having to plug it in beforehand.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing carries a line of medical-grade tablet PCs that address the concerns of a mobile clinic. If your organization is invested in mobile medical services, contact us today to discuss your options!

Patient Infotainment trends

4 Features to Look for in Bedside Medical Computers

No one likes to think about a stay in the hospital, and yet it’s sometimes necessary in order to properly treat a given medical condition. According to the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, approximately 36.5 million Americans receive hospital care every year, with an average time spent of 4.5 days apiece. Bedside care remains an important part of overall patient care at medical institutions of all varieties.

Thanks to advances in computer technology, medical grade computers can now be permanently affixed to bedside stations. That, in turn, can improve the patient’s hospital experience greatly, as well as making it easier for doctors and other care providers to do their jobs. There are several important features that a hospital administration should look for in such computers, in order to make the best use of their location at the patient’s bedside and the attendant healthcare benefits that can bring. We’ve included a list of 4 of them below.

Antimicrobial Features Are a Big Concern

Medical computers remain a contact point for germs and contagions, since they’re used by a number of different people on most days and can easily be passed on to patients. The CDC estimates that approximately 1.7 million cases of hospital acquired illnesses (HAIs) take place in the United States every year, with 99,000 fatalities among that number. Bedside workstations are of particular concern, since they are in close proximity to patients.

The best way to combat that is to use bedside medical PCs with anti-microbial coating on their surface, or antimicrobial properties baked into the resin. That helps reduce the spread of germs on the device’s surface and allows staff members to use it with less chance of passing on any contagions. In addition, computers with an IP65 rating are protected against dust and liquid intrusion. That lets your staff clean the computer with liquid disinfectant – further reducing the spread of germs – without damaging the computer itself.

Ease of Access Helps Your Staff’s Efficiency

The patient’s bedside is where doctors and nurses check on the patient: monitoring their progress, taking key readings and administering medication if needed. Logging such data can be supremely tedious, especially when a practitioner has to write down data by hand for later entry into the system. A recent study by Forbes indicates that hospital staff spend an average of 2-3 hours of uncompensated time each day filling in such data.

Bedside computers allow doctors and nurses to access the data they need immediately. That ease of access can extend to taking readings and checking the status of medication, as well as entering the patient’s data into an electronic health record. Medical PCs with biometric scanners, RFID readers, barcode scanners and the like can pull up the patient’s charts simply by wiping a bracelet or running the scanner over a barcode on the medication needed. That, in turn, permits the staff to move through their rounds quickly, while still maintaining high levels of accuracy and ensuring that medication and other treatments are applied as required.

Patient Accessibility Provides Swift Answers to Basic Questions

Beyond the hospital staff, patients themselves can take advantage of bedside medical grade computers to improve their care. Specifically, patient portals, which give patients access to at least some of their medical records – scheduled appointments, lab results, discharge summaries and recent doctor visits, among other information – enhance their understanding of their condition and the means used to treat it. According to research from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health information Technology, 52 percent of individuals under care of a health provider accessed their medical records via a patient portal. Of that number, 80% considered such information useful to their treatment.

Tethered patient portals – those directly linked to your organization’s electronic medical care systems (EMR) – can easily be made accessible from a bedside computer system. A given patient can access the pertinent data via scans from a medical bracelet, allowing them access to said data while securing other information in the network that doesn’t relate to them. Access to such records helps patients better understand the specifics of their treatment, which helps illuminate their condition and eliminate worry. Patient portals also answer basic questions 24 hours a day, without having to wait for a doctor or a nurse to arrive on their rounds.

Infotainment Improves the Patient Experience

In addition to immediate information regarding their treatment and condition, bedside computers can provide infotainment options to keep patients’ spirits up and allow them to remain in touch with loved ones. Options such as these do far more than simply alleviate patient boredom. According to studies from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a positive patient experience makes it less likely that they will make an error in their medication after being discharged, as well as reducing the chances of re-admission by as much as 50%. That can translate into lower costs incurred by the hospitals themselves, as well as more successful treatment.

Medical panel PCs at one’s bedside can accomplish a great deal on this front. With WiFi access, patients can surf the internet or watch movies and television programs via platforms such as Netflix. Applications such as Skype let them contact friends or relatives, some of whom may be quite distant or be unable to visit them otherwise. They can even order meals from the kitchen, saving the staff the time and effort of having to take down their orders. Bedside computers can be readily equipped with the components necessary for such features, including WiFi access, touchscreen technology to operate the system, a webcam for Skype and similar applications, and a proper speaker configuration.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers a number of medical computers to serve at patients’ bedsides. For more information, contact our team today.

4 Ways That AI will Affect Medical Computer Systems

The term “artificial intelligence” conjures images straight out of science fiction blockbusters: super-smart machines controlling all aspects of life, and often running wild to destroy their human creators. In reality, however, AI is very different… and in many ways, it’s already here.

Artificial intelligence is defined most prominently by an ability to perform human-like tasks. For instance, many AI programs are designed to learn over time, allowing them to analyze data more accurately and provide more sophisticated computing functions.

This impact can be felt most profoundly in the medical industry, which is already undergoing a technological revolution thanks to modern medical computer systems. The advent of AI will affect such systems considerably, and in a few years may become an integral part of any medical organization. Those hoping to take advantage of the enormous potential of AI applications would do well to start preparing for it now.

So what does that mean? It means taking a close look at the ways that AI will affect medical-grade PCs and ensuring that the units in your network are prepared for it. Here are 4 specific things to look for.

Upgradable Components Add Processing Power

AI relies on typical hardware concerns, which come down to processing power and storage space. The faster a computer can perform and the more space it has to hold information, the better it can do its job. Consider, for example, the vital task of data analysis. An AI program can analyze a huge amount of medical records very quickly in order to spot trends in treatment plans and places where errors seem to recur. (This is already happening in places like the Cleveland Clinic, where IBM’s Watson program is used to conduct deep data mining of existing medical records.)

In order to do that, it needs a system with a great deal of memory and processing power, and implementing such a program may require you to replace older computers that lack the capacity. Alternately, looking at an upgradable system now – with the ability to upgrade ram, add a second hard drive or even upgrade the CPU with more powerful versions in the future – will allow your network to adjust to increased needs and better take on the requirements of an artificial intelligence system.

Superior Imaging Helps AI Do Its Job

Diagnostic imaging PCs and similar devices help enhance the images doctors need to perform diagnoses: anything from x-rays of broken bones to endoscopes pinpointing problems in the patient’s gastrointestinal tract. But imaging analysis can take a long time, as medical personnel pore over numerous images in search of accurate information. That means a significant loss of efficiency at best, and if the needed information is time-specific – if, for example, the information is required before emergency surgery – it can be dangerous.

3D medical scans benefit immeasurably from AI features, which can analyze visual data much faster and with greater accuracy than humans. (MIT has developed an algorithm called VoxelMorph for just such analyses.) But that, in turn, relies on high-quality imaging from the computer itself, which provides better data samples and can improve accuracy. A system with a high-end video card and superior image processing will be well-suited to AI image diagnostics, and allow such applications to perform their functions effectively.

Everything Is Connected

Accurate analysis depends on accurate data, and that can rely on devices that aren’t necessarily set up for an AI application. An older x-ray machine, for instance, may use outdated image files that are not readily integrated into a newer medical computer network. Patient data, medication supplies and similar details may also suffer from interconnection issues (such as when they are recorded by hand and logged into an electronic system later).

The more interconnectivity a network has, the more readily such data can be analyzed and interpreted by an AI system. That starts with peripheral equipment, such as 2D barcode scanners and RFID devices. When directly integrated into a medical tablet or computer on wheels, they allow nurses and doctors to instantly scan patient data by swiping the scanner over medical bracelets, as well as scanning barcodes on medication bottles and even medical equipment.

Similarly, legacy ports such as RS-232 ports on a medical computer provide access for older machines. That, in turn, allows an AI application to analyze the data from a legacy device with considerable speed and efficiency. The more you can address interconnectivity with a system designed for AI functions, the more smoothly it will run with other equipment, and the more quality data will be procured for its use.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing produces a variety of medical grade PCs to facilitate artificial intelligence applications. If your organization is looking at the potential of AI for your network, contact our team to discuss your options.

Medical Device End of Life Cycle

3 Ways to Extend the Life of Legacy Medical Devices

Legacy technology is defined as technology which is no longer produced (or in many cases even supported), but which still functions and can be used. The medical industry is filled with legacy technology, and while it eventually becomes necessary to sundown a given piece of medical tech – retiring it from use and buying a new piece of equipment to put in its place – prudent administrators won’t do so as long as the device continues to work and provide reliable patient care.

Medical computers make an excellent means of getting the most value out of legacy technology: overcoming some of the challenges and difficulties they embody, and ensuring that they can do their jobs as long as possible. The right computer can address the specific problems created by legacy technology, allowing your organization to continue to use it with modern medical grade PCs and similar upgraded equipment. Here’s a quick list of some of the things to look for.

Legacy Ports Keep Older Systems Up to Date

Older technology often uses obsolete ports to connect to other components, such as RS-232 ports. RS stands for “recommended standard,” and the ports themselves entailed rows of pins inserted into fitted holes to make a connection. They were in place on electronic devices starting in 1960, and remained a staple in various configurations for many years, but advancing technology gradually phased them out. USB ports, which are standard on many modern pieces of equipment, are easier to use, provide faster connections and use much less power.

That can cause a problem with legacy devices that still depend on RS-232 to interface with a computer or a printer. It sounds like a comparatively minor problem, but if it can’t be resolved, it may force the organization to replace the device simply to provide interoperability with a modern medical computer… even if the device in question still works just fine from every other perspective.

A modern medical PC with customizable ports can solve that problem quite easily. An RS-232 port (or similarly outdated connection) can be included through an expansion slot for use with a piece of legacy medical equipment, allowing for swift integration and ease of access without having to replace the whole system.

Secure Computers Can Reduce the Security Risks of Legacy Devices

Legacy devices can present unique security concerns in our era of cybernetic intrusion. Data from a medical network can fetch a high price on the black market – even more than credit card numbers – and incidents such as the LabCorp data breach earlier this year are only growing in numbers. A recent report from HealthCare IT news estimated that more than 3 million patient records in the United States were breached between April and June of 2018, and that number is only likely to grow in the future.

On May 31, the American Hospital Association issued a warning to Congress, stating that legacy medical devices are “a key vulnerability for hospitals and health systems.” Many of them were built before such threats were serious, and even those built in the digital age are vulnerable. (Development time from concept to market often takes years, and security measures put into place may become obsolete before the device even hits the market.)

The warning urges hospitals and medical providers to provide their own answers to the problem, rather than waiting for guidance from the government. Yet it also notes that replacing such devices en masse simply isn’t practical for most medical organizations, given the costs involved.

A modern medical all-in-one computer can make a cost-effective solution to the problem and help keep legacy devices protected with updated security measures. Imprivata single sign-on, for instance, uses RFID readers or fingerprint scanners to ensure that only qualified personnel can access the system. Multiple LAN ports allow IT personnel to connect devices to both the internet and an intranet, which allows older devices to communicate with one another without being connected to the outside world. These are just some of the ways that medical grade computers can help secure legacy devices and extend their lifespan.

Multi-Use Devices

Few medical organizations replace or update their computer systems all at once. Instead, it’s usually a piecemeal process delivered in stages, with a few units being replaced at a time. The AHA estimates that many hospitals can only afford to replace about 10 percent of their devices in a given year, and indeed, this “stagger” is one of the reasons why legacy devices continue to be used.

That can create significant problems with a device that can’t properly integrate with the remainder of a medical organization’s network. For example, say a hospital uses a legacy x-ray machine whose DICOM files can’t be read by the most modern computers. If the images generated by that machine are needed on short notice – say, in an operating room – the lack of flexibility can create a huge delay.

All-in-one computers with upgradable options make an elegant “bridge” solution to such issues by interfacing with legacy devices while serving as a connection for newer systems. To take the above example, an all-in-one PC might have the ability to read the x-ray images from the legacy device, convert them into an easily readable format and forward them to a new medical monitor much more quickly and effectively. In so doing, it allows the x-ray machine to continue functioning: letting the hospital get the maximum use from the investment and delaying the day when the machine needs to be replaced.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing produces a high-end line of medical computers that can be customized to work with a wide variety of legacy devices. Contact our team today to learn more.

What Makes Medical-Grade Monitors Different from Commercial Monitors?

Computer monitors have become an integral part of our lives, not only at home and work, but in every facet of society today. You see them at the grocery store checkout line when the clerks scan your food, at the gas station pumps when you fill your tank, and even at parking kiosks to scan your ticket when you go out for the evening. We’re surrounded by screens and monitors, and that saturation extends into the medical field as well.

Hospitals and similar care providers use computers as a matter of course, and that means medical-grade monitors to provide display screens for PCs. They’re ubiquitous in most healthcare facilities — one to a bed in many cases, plus additional units in operating rooms, nurse’s stations, and the like — and with the advent of electronic medical records (EMR) and similar software, they’re becoming more important than ever. Modern facilities absolutely depend on them for relaying important information to healthcare providers and coordinating efforts throughout often complex organizations.

Yet medical facilities have different needs than commercial endeavors, and a simple out-of-the box monitor won’t be able to meet them properly. There are some distinct differences that medical LCD monitors offer that set them apart, and help ensure that a given hospital or similar facility operates at maximum efficiency.

Specific Imaging Needs for a Medical Environment

Imaging information is vital to medical care. Common procedures often require detailed imaging for things like X-rays and endoscopies, allowing doctors to make an accurate assessment of the patient’s condition and offer an informed diagnosis. A commercial-grade 4K monitor can usually provide such accuracy, but hospitals and medical facilities often require more than just sharp images, and a commercial monitor simply can’t account for such needs.

For instance, operating rooms have overhead lights that can create severe glare and limit a physicians’ ability to see the information they need on the screen. That can be devastating in circumstances where time is a factor or where hands might not be free to make the needed adjustments to the screen position. A medical-grade monitor can correct that issue with anti-glare and anti-reflective properties, which allow you to perceive the screen accurately without having to deal with glare from nearby lights.

Furthermore, medical staff don’t always have the luxury of privacy when viewing on-screen records. Information and diagnoses sometimes need to be made in places where sensitive information can easily be viewed by people without the proper credentials, such as when a doctor or nurse accesses a monitor mounted near a patient’s bed. The patient — or even visiting friends and relatives — can inadvertently get a look at private files in such circumstances. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) can levy large fines for breaches in privacy, even when they are inadvertent.

Here, too, a good medical monitor can provide vital assistance. A privacy filter can be embedded directly into the device, which effectively “blacks out” the information for those looking at the screen from an angle (in other words, anyone expect the person directly using the medical computer). That allows doctors and nurses to examine whatever records they need wherever they need them, without worrying about the wrong set of eyes gaining a side glance.

Medical Monitors are Safe and Hygienic

The number-one concern for any piece of hardware in a hospital setting is whether it’s safe for use around patients. That means that it doesn’t emit radiation or similarly harmful energy, which can affect not only the patient’s health but the operation of other key pieces of equipment too. For example, X-ray machines need to be certified so that they don’t emit harmful radiation that could harm patients or staff members. Medical monitors need to be subject to the same standards. UL/IEC 60601-1 certification (or the European equivalent, EN 60601-1) means that the monitor is safe for near-patient use and won’t disrupt other medical equipment while it works.

Furthermore, germs and bacteria can spread as staff members handle the screen and adjust the controls. Nosocomial infections — those created in and spreading through medical facilities — are an important concern for any healthcare organizations. Yet cleaning monitors of any sort can be tricky, since liquid can quickly turn the unit into a large paperweight. That causes problems if you need to use a liquid cleanser to disinfect the surface. Ideally, any monitor you use will be IP65 certified, which means it’s protected against liquids and can be properly cleaned without damaging it. In addition, look for units with an anti-microbial housing, which repels germs and keeps the hardware clean in a hospital setting.

Touchscreen Technology Make LCD Monitors Easy to Use

The growing use of EMRs and similar software means that more and more more data can be summoned and cross-referenced directly on the screen. Medical professionals need to be able to access such information quickly, and touchscreen technology allows users to control the data simply by swiping their fingers across it.

More specifically, touchscreens can eliminate the need for keyboards and mouse controls, which means a less cluttered work space and a reduction in cumbersome (and sometimes even dangerous) cables. It also means fewer devices for IT to maintain as well as fewer devices that can spread germs. That can be invaluable in busy hospital settings, especially with medical cart computers and workstations on wheels, which benefit from a reduction in cable clutter. In addition, screens that use PCAP (projected capacitive) technology can be used with surgical gloves without issue. PCAP technology also allows for pinch-zooming and two-finger swiping, letting you access the information you need without a lot of awkward fumbling.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers dedicated medical-grade monitors to go along with their line of hospital computers. If you’re in the market, contact us today for more information!

4 Ways Workstations on Wheels Improve Hospital Care

They’re called workstations on wheels, or WOWs: mobile medical carts, either powered or non-powered, that allow nurses and other personnel to move from bedside to bedside with medical computer systems in tow. They’re rapidly becoming a staple in healthcare operations of all varieties, part of a larger wave of technological innovation that is revolutionizing the way we treat the sick and injured.

WoWs are designed not only to enhance the efficiency of hospital staff, but to provide better care for patients and improve the overall treatment experience. They come with a variety of designs and features, but all of them should have the same basic goals in mind: saving your staff time and energy, and letting them focus on patient care. Here’s a quick list of 4 ways a good medical equipment cart can do that.

Patient Charting with a Computer on Wheels

Paperwork is the bane of most hospital staff members and patient charting can be an extremely time-consuming process. A recent study by the National Institute of Health maintained that nurses spend an average of two hours a day on charting and similar record-keeping duties. Paper charts need to organize and unify a great deal of information, which makes them extremely vulnerable to human error. Ideally, charting should take place very quickly after visiting the patient: within an hour or so. The more time that goes by, the easier it is to make mistakes and the more likely those mistakes will have an impact on other aspects of your operation.

Electronic medical records (EMR) provide a theoretical solution to the problem, but they need to be accessed by a computer station, which isn’t always possible when making the rounds. It’s not uncommon for a nurse to do her rounds and then chart everything into the EMR at the nurses station, which is inefficient and takes time away from patient care. A medical cart computer solves that issue by allowing healthcare provider to simply bring the computer with them. It also permits the staff to use barcode scanners on patient wristbands and similar forms of ID. That, in turn, provides swift and accurate information while allowing your staff to do patient charting as they go instead of having to wait for long periods of time before documenting the information properly.

Making Medical Devices Mobile

There are often times when a patient is too sick to comfortably move to other departments of the hospital, or a doctor might order heart or respiratory monitoring tests that can easily be performed bedside. It is important that the medical devices entrusted to perform these tests can be brought into the patient room without the need to plug things in, connect to monitors or clutter what is typically an already small space. 

Medical carts are often used in conjunction with medical devices for exactly this reason. A lightweight powered cart will often be used to power a medical device like an ultrasound machine or respiratory monitor, plus the medical computer that runs the device. The maneuverability of these carts make it easy for a technician to take the device to the patient, rather than the other way around, which can drastically improve patient care and get tests run faster and more efficiently. 

 

Secure, Accurate Medication Dispensing

Proper handling and dispensation of medication is one of the most important parts of hospital care: ensuring that each patient gets the medicine they need in the required dose at the right time. That relies on the hospital staff keeping accurate track of all the medication through the entire process, including recording the dosage in the patient’s chart once it’s taken.

A medication dispensing cart with locking drawers can help improve this process, while ensuring accuracy and security. Each patient is assigned a drawer with the precise medication needs. The drawers are locked and coded to the patient’s ID badge or wristband. A bar code scanner or similar device can be used to scan the patient’s ID when the caregiver arrives at their bedside, and unlock the pertinent drawer containing the meds. That ensures that there are no mistakes in this all-important aspect of patient care, and that the dosage and time of dosing can be quickly entered into the patient’s records with the cart’s computer.

Medical Carts can Improve the Patient Experience

Anyone who has spent any time in the hospital knows that the cafeteria food won’t win any culinary awards. But what is worse than the food is getting the wrong order or a tray of food you can’t eat, leading to having to wait even longer for a meal. Though less dire than dispensing the wrong medication, a patients dietary needs pose their own health challenges. Some patients have dietary restrictions based on their treatment; others may have previously existing conditions such as a dairy allergy, or require a kosher meal because of their religion. A lot of hospitals still use paper menus that the patient fills out, and are then collected. This poses a number of problems. The wrong menu might get distributed to a patient, or the patient selects an item that they can’t eat due to doctor orders or allergies. An order could get lost or misplaced, leading to a patient not getting fed, or having to wait for the error to be discovered and corrected. 

WoWs can address that the same way they address medication. A barcode scanner connected to the medical computer can scan the patient’s ID to check for specialty diets or anything that might present a problem, ensuring that there are no mistakes. Staff members can select the food the patient wants from the available options, skipping the need for hand-written orders and streamlining the entire process as a result.

Cybernet Manufacturing offers a wide variety of turnkey medical cart solutions that can be paired with any of our medical grade computers. To find a solution that meets your needs and your budget, contact our team today!

5 Ways Hospitals Are Using Medical Computer Systems

Just a few years ago, hospitals and similar medical facilities lagged behind other industries when it came to effective use of computers. But government regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and Medicare/Medicaid information systems established an enhanced need for proper medical computer systems, while improved technology made such systems more affordable and easier to use.

Today, hospitals all over the country are taking advantage of dedicated systems to improve response time and focus more on patients. As time goes on, a quality medical computer is only going to become more and more vital to effective care. Here’s a look at 5 key areas where modern hospitals are using such systems to maximum advantage.

EHR Software Runs Best on Compliant Medical Computers

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for health information technology (ONC), by 2016, over 98 percent of all hospitals and over 97 percent of critical access and small rural hospitals used some manner of EHR (Electronic Health Records) software, which allows health files to be shared more readily and eliminates the need for cumbersome paper records. But simply implementing such a system isn’t enough.

Hospitals need computers capable of running EHR software smoothly, as well as exhibiting features that allow staff to access the materials they need with a minimum of fuss. That includes components like display size, which allow the software to be run correctly, and single sign-on security measures to protect patient confidentiality.

It’s no small matter. A recent study from JAMA Internal Medicine found that over 44% of surveyed physicians spent excessive time filling out EMR records at home: a serious drain on energy and emotional reserves. The right medical computer allows the software to perform as intended, giving staff ready access to the information they need without causing frustration or compromising EHR security.

Medical Cart Computers Make Rounds more Efficient

Medical carts, also known as workstations on wheels, allow hospital staff to move their computer from patient to patient and location to location as needed. It can be tempting to use powered carts, which provide battery life for computers, barcode scanners and similar equipment. They also allow for automated medication distribution, which lowers the chances of administering the wrong medication. But powered carts can also be expensive, and the additional weight can make them more difficult to maneuver through hospital corridors. They might be right for some situations, but budget-minded administrators often look for more cost-sensible solutions.

Medical cart computers with hot swappable batteries can operate with non-powered carts to create an efficient workstation on wheels. Hot swappable batteries that run low on power can be switched out for fresh batteries without having to shut the machine off, providing 24/7 up-time and allowing staff to use lighter non-powered carts without being tethered to a wall outlet.

Mobile Charting with Medical Grade Tablets

Even with a lighter weight non-powered medical cart, sometimes wheeling a large device from room to room isn’t the best way for a healthcare practitioner to perform their rounds. In some cases, having a dedicated computer in every patient room isn’t a possibility for facilities with tighter budget constraints. Mobility and budget can both be two major hurdles that healthcare IT professionals must contend with.

Medical tablets provide a solution for both problems. A lot of hospitals are turning to these mobile medical devices as an alternative to medical carts. Nurses and physicians can walk into a patient room or exam room with a medical grade tablet and do their charting on the go. A medical tablet with a barcode scanner takes functionality to the next level, allowing the end user to scan patient ID bracelets, IV bags or other medication bottles to ensure that a patient is receiving the right medication.

Improving Patient Safety in Operating Rooms

Any kind of equipment that enters the operating room needs to adhere to strict requirements. For example, the operating theater needs to be free of potential contamination, such as dust which can be spread by a computer’s cooling fan. Furthermore, electromagnetic signals, radiation and similar emissions can present a hazard to the patient, which rules out the wrong type of computer. For example, an anesthesiologist with a computer that isn’t medically certified may need to sit outside the operating room to monitor the patient, or else use paper records (and increase the risk of bookkeeping mistakes accordingly).

A fanless medical computer can address those problems quickly and effectively, utilizing advanced passive cooling technology to ensure the sterility of the space. IP65 certification ensures that the system can be cleaned and disinfected without damaging the components, while UL60601-1 certification allows the system to be used in close proximity to a patient with no danger. That makes for a smoother and more efficient operating room, and an attendant improvement to the quality of care.

Increasing Patient Satisfaction and Engagement

Studies cited by the ONC stress the importance of patient engagement and how useful health IT can be in enhancing their overall satisfaction with the experience. No one wants to spend time in a hospital, and patients can easily be left feeling isolated and helpless just when they need energy and resolve. Cell phone use is often restricted – since noisy ringtones and MP3s can distract staff members from their work, and signals from the phone can disrupt important devices – which limits contact with family and friends.

Similarly, basic questions about the patient’s condition must sometimes wait all day until a doctor or nurse arrives on rounds, increasing anxiety and forcing the patient to wonder about comparatively simple questions. Depending on the circumstances, even basic functions like turning on a television may require a nurse or staff member, all of which can have a drastic effect on the patient’s emotional health and well-being.

A medical computer, however, can provide a wealth of infotainment options, often from the same computer monitors that doctors and nurses use in the patient’s room. Patients can access information about their condition: putting their mind at ease and helping them better understand the treatment process. They can also access entertainment services like Netflix, and enjoy movies and television while they recuperate. Perhaps most importantly, built-in voice and video applications let them contact friends and family: putting them in touch with those best capable of providing emotional support.

The ultimate goal of any piece of medical equipment is to help hospital staff perform their duties faster and more effectively. Cybernet produces a line of high-end medical computers designed with just such efficiency in mind. For more information on how to put such technology to work for you, contact us here.

surgical monitors and medical computer system

Understanding How Medical Computers Enhance EMR Capability

Technology in hospitals has advanced greatly towards automation and electronic document storage to improve the lives of patients and facilitate the jobs of medical professionals. As of 2015 96% of all non-federal acute care hospitals had adopted basic EMR software. Even in rural areas adoption was at 80% – up from just 53% as recently as 2013. As with all tools, however, adoption isn’t enough. How you use a tool determines if you are maximizing its effectiveness and your ROI. Since the introduction of EMR systems, medical computers have presented new methods of accessing healthcare information and services. Here’s a brief look at how these systems are changing healthcare information roles.

Making Charting Less of a Time Drain

Probably the most dramatic shift since the widespread adoption of EMR software has been in how patient charting is done. In the past, charting was a paper process that took up hours of a nurse’s time each shift, taking away from actual time spent on patient care. Even today however, some hospitals and facilities still require nurses to do their charting at the nurses station, which means that time is still wasted transcribing data into the EMR software. Time that could be spend tending to patients.

Medical cart computers that are certified to run EMR software can help alleviate tedious processes like this. Instead of charting at a central location, nurses can go room to room, administering to their patient’s needs, and chart in “real-time”. What sets these computers apart from regular commercial grade computers is two-fold. First and foremost, they are medically certified devices that have been cleared for near patient use. Second, they use integrated RFID, fingerprint and smart card readers to ensure secure log-in, keeping patient data safe and secure as mandated by HIPAA.

Making Anesthesiology Safer

There is no time when a patient is more vulnerable or when a hospital’s risk and liability are greater than when surgery is being performed. The role that anesthesiologists play in mitigating both risks can’t be understated. Unfortunately, a lot of facilities still use antiquated processes when it comes to anesthesiology. There are certain realities that must be adhered to in an operating room. The sterile nature of the rooms and regulations regarding electrical medical equipment often times leads to anesthesiologists being forced to monitor patients and record vital information on paper. We’ve even heard of one example where the anesthesiologists were monitoring the patient from outside of the operating room because their equipment was deemed safe for near patient use. This is a massive liability that is easy to fix.

Medical computers are built and designed for these applications. Fanless medical computers are safe for sterile environments. A true medical computer will also be UL60601-1 certified for near patient use and IP65 rated for cleaning and disinfection. Large displays with touchscreens also make it easier for the anesthesiologist to enter patient vitals, meaning there is less time doing data entry and more time administering to the patient. Here’s one example of one of the advanced surgical centers in the country made the switch to fanless medical computers in their operating rooms to enhance their patient care.

 

 

Remote Patient Care

It’s not always the case that patients are able enough to travel to a doctor’s office. Disabled individuals and shut-ins will need in-home care. Mobile health clinics might be necessary in rural areas. Mobile clinics are also an important pieces of the healthcare puzzle in underserved areas. There are several reasons why an individual might not be able to gain reliable access to healthcare on their own. But mobile technology now allows healthcare to come to them, if not in their homes, at least in a more convenient location to them.

Medical grade tablets have completely changed healthcare. In-home nurses can bring these devices with them and record patient information directly into an EHR system. The same can be said of mobile health clinics. Patients can use a table to enter medical histories or sign up for patient portals so they can access their records from home. Practitioners can even engage in telehealth consultations to share test results or help diagnose ailments. And all data is immediately recorded in an EMR solution every step of the way.

Preventative Medical Care – The Future of EMR

As before, healthcare has “developed legs” and evolved to become so comprehensive that healthcare tracking is something that can remain with patients. Since the rise of the Internet of Things and wearable devices that track our health, patients are taking better preventative steps for healthcare. Instead of periodical healthcare snapshots, physicians can look at a profile of patients with ongoing health metrics and identify conditions that can lead to more serious health complications years down the road. This allows for a further understanding of illness which can push the boundary of medical education and progress. Many experts believe that blockchain technology will allow healthcare networks to aggregate hundreds of thousands of anonymous data points to identify risk factors and health trends, ultimately leading to early diagnosis and preventative health plans. And of course, medical computers will be at the forefront of connecting the dots.

These are just a handful of the ways that medical computers are maximizing the way hospitals and other facilities are using their EMR software. EMR software, like all technology, will continue to evolve and grow and the way that it is used on a day to day basis will improve the outcome of patients everywhere. For more information on how to improve your EMR investment you can contact us here.

 

medical computer systems and medical tablets

2 Difficult Roadblocks for Medical Device Manufacturers (and How to Overcome Them)

Medical device manufacturers (MDMs) have their work cut out for them. Producing a medical device is one of the most arduous processes in the medical field; it takes meticulous design, several tests, verification, validation, retesting, proper documentation, and other steps to see a device turn from concept to fruition after years of work—not an easy one-and-done task! A lot of new medical device manufacturers may be struggling with the reins of understanding the process from A to Z, and mistakes can (and will) be made. That’s why it’s important to educate MDMs about one of the most important aspects of medical device manufacturing—ensuring that the computers used on their devices are true medical computer systems and not computers you’ll find down the street in a retail store. Here are a few reasons why MDMs should steer towards these kinds of computers.

Software Certification—Test, Test, and Re-Test

Software in the medical world is ever-improving, but it’s a heavy burden to release a new build for a medical device. The problem is it’s difficult to re-certify the software as new builds need to go through rigorous quality testing in order to be approved on hardware. This first assumes that the original software build for the original product has passed all regulations. The FDA advises that software development for all medical devices requires proper planning, verification, testing, traceability, configuration management, and other aspects in order to have a proper approach for software builds. There’s still a matter of verification and validation too; validation is a process of ensuring the proper software is being built, while verification ensures the proper software is being built correctly. This constant testing and quality assurance can take several months to years to complete just to upgrade the software to a newer fieldable build. Consumer-grade hardware typically turns obsolete by the time these processes are finished—what then?

It’s much easier for a medical device manufacturer to stick with a software build that has already been approved and match the hardware to the software. That’s why a lot of medical device manufacturers adhere to purchasing medical computers with long product life cycles. Software might be developed to run on a specific operating system or with an older aspect ratio. They might require specific ports to integrate a device into. With the ever changing landscape of the consumer computer market, a MDM’s software could become incompatible with the latest and greatest consumer tech in a short time. That’s the reasoning behind longer product life cycles—so device manufacturers aren’t trying to keep up with the ever-changing consumer market. Medical computers typically have a much longer life cycle than their consumer counterparts, making them ideal for MDMs.

Patient Safety Comes First

Imagine being in the middle of a procedure like an endoscopy, or laying in an MRI machine and a surge of electricity shorts out the machine. These types of events are exactly what the FDA is trying to prevent when they are certifying new devices for near patient use. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is an organization that certifies the safety and performance of medical electrical equipment. Commonly known as EN60601-1 (in Europe) or UL60601-1 (in The United States), MDMs are required to meet these certifications in order to be approved for near patient use. Seeing how no commercial grade computers meet these standards, MDMs are faced with two choices. One option would be to purchase isolation transformers, figure how to integrate those with their computers, and then integrate that with their device, get the device tested, at which point, there is still no guarantee that all the pieces would pass certification. The other option is to purchase a medical grade computer that is already IEC60601-1 certified.

It is important, however, for an MDM to make sure that the hardware partner they are working with is actually 60601-1 certified. This is the only true measure of a medical grade computer. With a medical grade computer, there is less design work that needs to be done and testing is often less expensive and time consuming.

Just these two hardware aspects of medical computer systems hopefully give a glimpse into the lengthy, thought-provoking process that medical device manufacturers endure to market products to hospitals and clinics. Without the right hardware, the process of developing a medical device can turn costlier, longer, and present more roadblocks for MDMs in the future. The best idea when in the development stage is to find the right medical computer system customized with all the necessary features needed to run the device without problems. In a nutshell, struggle less with the right computer. Contact us to learn more.

 

Computer on wheels or medical computer

Mishaps in Hospitals from Inadequate Hardware Problems

Technology is great. We can stick to 8 hour work days while increasing productivity and then go home to families or plan out our next self-driven project. Granted that’s what technology is supposed to help us do, but sometimes bumps in the road of problem A to solution B can be tech-central. Technology can fail, unfortunately. Thankfully, the time invested to restore tech to working order is a sacrifice hospitals are willing to accept to bring better and less erroneous healthcare to patients. However, when older and inadequate tech is more of a burden, it’s time to consider scrapping what used to work ten years ago with something that can reduce tech-related stress and hangups that drain more time than necessary to get the job done.

Spotty WiFi with Computers on Wheels

It’s a constant problem for the 21st century in hospitals everywhere—spotty wireless communications in every corner of the hospital building. Call up a nurse’s desk to ask what issues they’re facing with technology and inconsistent WiFi will be mentioned. Chalk it up to weakened signals from aging hardware and insufficient components. It’s not feasible to remove that problem for good, but it’s possible to pinpoint key factors in technology—mostly residing in a hospital’s medical computers—that can be improved so WiFi isn’t a problem of which patient room you’re in or where you’re standing. Here’s WiFi woes and ways to restore the fidelity in the “Fi.”

Take a hypothetical case—a nurse using a cloud-based EMR system on a cheap laptop finds that in patient room 105 the WiFi doesn’t kick in, and so entering information relies on memory, written notes, or a silly, cumbersome workaround. That’s not ideal for a hospital, especially when “zero” can be a dangerous entry for a patient refill or a different metric. If the IT department has ensured that the wireless infrastructure is the highest standard on the market, then the culprit lies within the laptop. The wireless card inside of the machine doesn’t communicate well with the wireless routers in the hospital.

If that’s the reason for the signal drop, it’s time for IT to consider upgrading their computing efforts to medical computers with Intel-certified wireless cards instead of laptops that power cheap alternatives. An Intel dual-band wireless AC card is the current standard for wireless technology in a hospital. Not only more secure, these cards have the know-how to switch between wireless routers on the fly without signal loss. Computers on wheels are often pushed through several hospital wings and floors, jumping from one wireless router to the next. Intel wireless cards are secure and stable enough to swap from router to router seamlessly. It’s a hardware standard that computers on wheels and medical devices need to operate optimally. Besides, less stress on the end-user is always a positive thing.

Hospitals Don’t Shut Down—Neither Should the Hardware

Twenty thousand hours. That’s how long a standard hard drive disk lasts per average metrics and regular use. It may seem like a lot, but that’s just over two years if you do the math. Medical computers operate at near 24/7 runtimes. If there’s a hard drive failure in two years, that’s not a very strong lifespan for a computer to store data. The last mishap a nurse or physician wants is for the digital rug to be pulled out beneath them with a hard drive failure while they’re busy entering patient data into a medical computer. The drive can’t be sent off to data rescue because it would violate HIPAA laws. So, what to do?

Thankfully, technology has improved hard disk storage so there aren’t moving parts to break—solid state drives have a longer lifespan than regular platter hard drives, but that doesn’t rule the smarter tech out of defect or an eventual kaput. A medical grade computer with a military-grade solid state hard drive will push that two-year average life cycle to beyond five years. If the looming storage failure is still a concern for staff—which can happen at any given moment—then a backup drive coupled with the original solid state can serve as a proper safety net. IT can clone the surviving drive and restore the medical computer to optimal working status. Besides, a computer cycle for a hospital should be five years to stay with EMR software development. Having a hard drive that’s graded to last beyond a purchase cycle is ideal.

Shoddy Medical Computer Touch Screens

Touch screens are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. Introduce the dirt and grease from five separate individuals’ hands onto a touch-screen interface and an infection may reside somewhere in the fingerprint jungle. They’re not always the easiest to clean either—spray disinfectant directly on a medical monitor and the internal components could suffer from adverse effects from the disinfectant (broken pixels, unresponsive touch controls, or an immediate transformation into a paperweight) running into the crevices of the monitor. Some insufficient touch screen tech needs constant calibration to ensure what’s touched is the intended function. Pressing “Close” should never result in “Administer Medicine”—we shudder at that thought. But there’s still tech problems galore in working with touch screens that don’t measure up to what hospitals need.

The kind of tech needed in a hospital is what’s called 5-Wire Resistive technology. Avoiding too much tech-talk, it’s a more durable technology than capacitive because it holds up to scratches and cosmetic imperfections, it’s easier to work with since it doesn’t require skin contact, it’s cheaper to manufacture, and it lasts longer than the newer capacitive technology. Couple these features on a medical computer and bye-bye tech problems.

It isn’t intuitive to think of hard drives, touch screen technology or wireless cards when you’re talking about patient care. But in today’s HIT world, technology is one of the driving factors in providing the absolute best user experience for healthcare practitioners so they can focus on taking care of patients. For more information on how a computer designed specifically with healthcare in mind is different than a commercial grade computer you can contact us today to learn more about our medical computers.