Tag Archives: medical grade PCs

Improve Interoperability with the Right Medical Computers

Every organization consists of different departments working in sync together to move forward. This is doubly true with healthcare organizations such as hospitals, which measure success in lives saved and patients healed rather than profit and loss. A given hospital’s medical-grade computers need to work in conjunction with the organization’s entire network, which can include not just other computers but legacy medical devices integral to patient care. Most administrators can tell you what a challenge that is.

Interoperability – the ability of medical PCs to work harmoniously across a network with each other – can streamline the healthcare process, make paperwork easier and ensure that timely data gets into the right hands at the right time. The kind of medical computer your organization uses can make a huge difference on that front, turning what could be a patchwork of different units and operating systems into a smoothly running whole.

Go in Stages

Most healthcare organizations are quite large and require numerous medical computers in order to function. When the time comes to replace them, it usually takes place in stages. Annual budgets don’t normally allow for more than a percentage of a given organization’s systems to be replaced at any one time, and upgrades are usually staggered to minimize the impact of a big change.

This can make interoperability very difficult, with different makes and models of medical PCs utilizing different operating systems, all trying to function as part of the same network. A recent report by Healthcare Informatics states that an average of 15 percent of all hospital computer systems run on outdated operating systems. That can cause huge interoperability problems. Outdated systems may struggle with electronic medical records (EMR), for instance, and require elaborate workarounds in order to function.

With that in mind, it makes sense to look for medical computers with a long life cycle: ideally 3-5 years. That ensures that the computers you purchase a few years ago will still operate the same way the computers you’re preparing to install this year, which enhances their interoperability and allows EMRs and other vital software to function smoothly across your entire network.  That permits your organization to upgrade computers more gradually without having to integrate different hardware and software.

Integrate at the Point of Care

Interoperability functions most effectively when it is integrated at the point of care: where doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals directly treat the patients. The ability to document the patients’ treatment as it is delivered – including vital signs, medication and overall progress of healing – can drastically reduce the frequency of errors and ensure that all of the data is accurate.

Furthermore, information integrated into the system at point-of-care allows for much faster response times, allowing specialists and other medical personnel to evaluate the quality of treatment and plan for further care. In the event of a problem – say, a drop in the patient’s blood pressure – then those plans can be altered or revised to reflect the current data.

For example, Acute Care Testing cites a report on emergency services that saw a 2.5% mortality rate for patients boarded less than two hours slowly climb to a 4.5% mortality rate for patients boarded for 12 hours or longer. Compare that information to a study by the U.S. Department of Health, which found that point-of-care treatment — properly cataloged and integrated into an existing network — provides actionable data an average of 46 minutes sooner than lab tests or other factors. Smooth integration of such data allows care to be received that much sooner and reduces the frequency of mortality rates among patients. It can quite literally save lives.

Medical PCs, particularly mobile PCs like medical cart computers, can further facilitate this by using barcode scanners and radio frequency IDs (RFID) to scan and log patient data instantly from wristband IDs, medication containers and the like. They can gather needed data with just a swipe, then log the information and allow hospital staff to act on it when time is of the essence.

Don’t Forget Legacy Devices

Legacy devices – outdated technology that still sees regular use – can be one of the biggest challenges to interoperability. Such devices may not be compatible with modern software, and yet the data they provide can be invaluable to effective care. The American Hospital Association estimates that most medical organizations can only afford to replace 10% of their legacy devices per year, meaning that methods must be found to integrate functioning devices to the larger network as a matter of simple financial necessity.

Medical computers can address this by providing an access point for the legacy device. Legacy ports such as RS-232 serial ports allow you to connect the computer to the legacy device, which not only improves its functionality but can better integrate the information it delivers into the network’s larger database. Not only does that enhance the functionality of legacy devices, but it can cut down on the time required to log the data they provide: ensuring that the medical organization can maximize their utility for as long as possible.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers a variety of medical-grade PCs that can help you address the challenges of interoperability. Call on us today to discuss your options!

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.

How Two-Factor Authentication can Improve HIT Security

How Two-Factor Authentication is a Small-Scale Standard for Protecting Information

This year is no stranger to cyber-security attacks. One need only to refer to the Equifax data leak to recall security mishaps or the ransomware culprit “WannaCry” that holds protected information “ransom” unless victims pay to have the compromised files released. These and other attacks hit several corporations utilizing infrastructure weaknesses and security ignorance, compromising information for voters, financial records, email records, and other sensitive information, bringing a higher awareness to the online community about keeping all information as safe as possible. One area that is often overlooked is personal medical records, which can be just as valuable to cyber criminals as personal financial data. That’s where Two-Factor Authentication can come into play for healthcare IT professionals. It can ensure data is just as safe at the individual user level as it is protected on a massive, corporate scale.

Problems of Single Authentication

Authentication refers to one of the various methods of accessing important information, whether it’s a remembered password, a physical authentication token, a common access card, a biometric scanner storing user-specific information, or other methods. The problem with some of these methods is they’re too weak—unsophisticated passwords can be guessed by brute force, passwords can be forgotten, or worse, passwords can be stolen and then used by unauthorized individuals. Access cards can get lost, stolen, or “ripped” by devices that pull the information off of them to be reused maliciously. Cheap biometric devices may incorrectly read a person’s face or fingerprint, locking out access or providing access to the wrong individual. Compound these problems in an environment with a lot of sensitive data, and suddenly single authentication becomes the problem rather than the proper security protocol.

How Two-Factor Authentication Addresses Problems

Instead of using complex passwords that can lock users out or flee bad memory, authentication can be approved by using accurate biometric scanners and RFID identifiers integrated onto the medical grade PCs and tablets that healthcare professionals use on a daily basis, removing human entry altogether. By removing the human element—loss and forgetfulness—medical professionals can access patient information with minimized risk to violating HIPAA laws.  Imprivata’s intelligent Single Sign-On platform removes the need to remember complex passwords and erroneous entries—this is a security protocol standard that requires certified hardware in order to authenticate successfully. Also, using a highly accurate biometric scanner is a must-have since fingerprints cannot be lost or “stolen” much like cards can. Ensuring these systems are in place and functioning properly is key for maximum possible security on patient information.

Two-Factor Authentication is a Growing Standard for Medical Computers

Seen as Two-Factor Authentication is a growing tech trend in hospitals in some states, it’s already at the forefront of security protocols for medical professionals and hospitals to use on their medical computers. Ohio is the first state to require Two-Factor Authentication for HIPAA laws. However, nearly half the hospitals in the United States are using Two-Factor protocols, meaning it is quickly becoming the standard, even if it isn’t mandated by law. Corporations are using high-quality authentication protocols that require certified hardware in order to authenticate properly, such as Imprivata’s sophisticated Single Sign-On platform and CrossMatch’s high-quality biometric scanners that are Imprivata-certified. These necessary certifications are the best market-available products to ensure security.

Two-“Fact”or Authentication Facts

The Office of the National Coordination for HIT recently reported that there was a 53-percent jump in hospitals over the course of four years that started utilizing Two-Factor Authentication for their HIT needs. Christus Health, an Imprivata user, reported over 2.3 million dollars was saved using Single Sign-On technology. Crossmatch’s DigitalPersona technology has been implemented in several HIT companies, touting ease-of-use across multiple IT infrastructures. Using these technologies together is making an impact in today’s HIT world.

Solutions for Two-Factor Authentication

The good news is that every medical computer that Cybernet manufactures is customizable for Two-Factor Authentication—biometrics, CAC integration, or RFID scanning can be added for security needs. Plus, Cybernet’s computers are approved for Imprivata Single Sign-On use, so the human element has been removed for password entry. Our biometric scanners come from CrossMatch, which are high-quality readers certified to work with Imprivata—you can rest assured that a biometric reading will be accurate and that it will authenticate users with Imprivata SSO. These security protocols in place minimize information leaks and keep out unwanted individuals from accessing what they shouldn’t have access to. Visit the Cybernet website to see how we can customize our hardware to meet your unique needs.

Responding To Budget Cuts In The Healthcare Industry Through Technology That Serves A Dual Purpose

The financial climate in the US healthcare is currently termed as “an acute funding crisis.” With severe budget cuts in hospital payments, the healthcare system is under a great pressure. On the one hand, the Affordable Care Act urges facilities to adopt healthcare IT such as EMRs and increase the digitization of the workflow. Medicare & Medicaid are shifting from fee-for-service to value-based incentives rewarding cost-effective patient care and high quality. On the other hand, the budget cuts aren’t helping hospitals make the necessary investment in healthcare IT. Hospitals are seeking ways to reduce spending, comply with the regulations and provide better healthcare at the same time.

Science and technology are key enablers in finding ways of improving the quality and efficiency of care and reducing cost. The effective use of technology helps hospitals tackle the budgeting challenge with the all-in-one, multi-purpose devices. Traditional, consumer computers and laptops are giving way to medical all-in-ones while the advent of mobile technologies sees a wide adoption of medical mobile devices.

Installation

Medical all-in-one PCs are transformers of sorts, so no wonder healthcare facilities are solving the problem of space constraints through ergonomic solutions. A computer that has been designed for medical use can be mounted on a wall, on a cart, on the desktop, or at the patient bedside, in operating rooms, intensive care units. Standard VESA holes allow for the easy installation in most hospital areas in a simple, affordable manner.

Deployment

Hardware providers are looking to cater increasingly customizable solutions. Healthcare facilities can order no cost disk imaging, so their computers are shipped with their operating system of choice complete with their enterprise license. This also means the computers come with zero bloatware and the complete productivity suite already installed. It significantly reduces the strain on the overloaded hospital IT staff, reducing the time and cost of the deployment of new devices.

Integration, Interoperability

A medical all-in-one computer or tablet gets naturally integrated into the existing ecosystem of a healthcare facility, further cutting the deployment costs. For example, integration with EMR charting systems such as EPIC, eClinical, Cerner, Meditech and Nextgen, or anesthesia applications does not require additional resources.

A seamless integration also suggests the device’s compatibility with legacy hardware. Support for legacy equipment brings a unified, connected data flow to a medical computer, and when used in conjunction with cloud sync, it provides the personnel with a timely access to critical information about all episodes of care and relevant tests, conditions and reading from the legacy equipment.

Staff Training

It is one thing when decision-makers introduce new technology with the aim to cut a facility’s spending, but it is a different story when the end user on the front line has to make that device work. From that perspective, Windows-based all-in-one computers and tablets require a minimum investment of time or funds. The touchscreen technology has been in the arena for quite a while now, and healthcare workers have been using their personal devices for work during the past few years now (BYOD). Windows-based touchscreens in all-in-one computers and tablets are easy-to-use. They represent the touch-based variant of their traditional desktop computers, so the only aspect requiring additional instructions would be the use of integrated peripherals and biometric authentication.

Serving Multiple Purposes & Streamlining Workflow

Big Data

The use of data in and of itself is a great enabler of healthcare modernization through:

  • boosting medical automation
  • meaningful use of EHR
  • remote patient vitals monitoring
  • reducing errors and avoidable overuse such as duplicate tests
  • advancing telemedicine and as a result reducing readmissions and preventable admissions
  • providing connectivity and timely access to data

Security, Tracking, Automating

The technology that serves multiple purposes integrates a few more cost effective solutions:

  • integrated biometric readers/fingerprint scanners that safeguard sensitive records
  • integrated RFID reader for enhanced patient and inventory tracking
  • integrated CAC/ smart card reader for secure user authentication
  • integrated Barcode reader for a multitude of applications

While biometric readers and smart cards serve the purpose of secure user authentication, RFID and barcode technology has a significantly wider adoption in healthcare – from medication tracking to patient identification, anti-abduction and anti-elopement, counterfeit programs and much more.

Mobility, Patient Monitoring and Involvement

Medical mobile tablets push the boundaries even further. Because they are rugged, they are mounted in ambulance vehicles and used on the go by the first responders. In hospitals, they empower doctors and nurses via a meaningful use of EHR and patient vitals tracking. A medical tablet is widely used by doctors for patient tracking and EMR, and by patients for infotainment, which has proved to increase patient satisfaction significantly.

Through the use of HELP and Apache applications and an integrated barcode scanner in medical mobile tablets, doctors reduce prescription and diagnostic errors, enhance medication prescription and dispensing, as well as streamline prescription issuing.

Fail Rate, Cost of Ownership, Lifespan

The true ROI of healthcare IT is best seen in the long-term perspective, the so-called cumulative impact or “productivity paradox of IT.” Medical computers and tablets that are at par with the industry requirements have a lifespan significantly longer than that of the consumer counterparts used in healthcare.

The increased lifespan is possible due to the low fail rates of medical all-in-ones and tablets, less than 2%. Quality, military-grade components ensure the durability and dependable MTBF of the discreet parts. In some cases, a fanless build adds even more to the equation by eliminating moving parts and deploying a passive cooling system.

Hence, the low fail rate and long lifespan of medical all-in-ones reduce maintenance, repair and replacements costs otherwise inevitable with consumer-grade computers.

Compliance, Liabilities

HIPAA, HITECH, IDC et al. add more strain on the hospitals’ budgets – compliance and liabilities stemming from non-compliance. Data protection and prevention of nosocomial infections are high on the agenda for healthcare facilities. Failure to deploy adequate means of data protection such as encryption and proper user authentication may result in significant fines. Likewise, high rates of hospital-acquired infections account for the bigger part of hospital readmissions. Not to mention how they affect the patient satisfaction.

Medical computers and tablets now address both of these nagging issues. Data security – through integrated biometric or CAC readers, nosocomial infections – through antimicrobial housing and touchscreen.

Even though the cost of delivering quality healthcare is spiraling, the effective use of ergonomic technology that serves multiple purposes helps hospitals reduce costs in both short- and long-term perspective.