Tag Archives: medical grade tablet

medical computers and emr certification

How EMR Software Upgrades Can Drive Computer Hardware Updates

The demand for computer capability has increased because of encroaching software complexity; we can no longer use clunky, old hardware to help our doctors and nurses complete an entire hospital shift. It’s not just a matter of how slow a process might run on a medical computer, but rather if a computer is compatible with software in question and how physicians interact with the computers. One of the reasons aging computers put restraints on the workflow for a hospital is because of increasing software demands, so here are several ways that software may drive the necessary upgrade in hardware.

Medical Computers are Popular for Multitasking

Computers don’t always serve just one purpose—multitasking is a commonplace activity, so what’s required is enough memory in order to support the concurrent programs they run simultaneously. Not enough RAM will turn any computer sluggish—multitasking and load time will suffer. It isn’t always easy to install more after deployment depending on the system. Some are sealed shut to prevent ingress, and so installing RAM may damage the internal components. Or, if the person installing RAM isn’t careful, the entire computer could receive electrostatic discharge turning it into a nice paperweight. The best way to address this problem is ensuring each computer in a deployment has more RAM than the minimum to run a particular software product. It’s a good idea to install the recommended level of RAM or go beyond what’s recommended. Thankfully, a lot of medical computers have customization options to choose how much RAM should be installed into the system before deployment.

EMR Systems Need Processing Power

If your EMR system is running sluggish, it’s time to upgrade. Most likely it’s a problem of an aged processor that can’t handle the number of Floating Point Operations Per Second (FLOPS), one measurement among many to determine the speed of a processor. Imagine all the frustrated doctors and nurses waiting to open a patient’s chart  while the computer cycles for several minutes just to display information. With the wide processor availability on the market, it can be a little confusing on what to select for a processor. Computers with Epic certification often run 6th generation Intel Skylake processors, common CPUs for a lot of Epic’s more complex modules. Medical staff can rest assured that the processor can handle software modules with ease and won’t suffer from excessive load times or computer hang-ups.

EMR Software Modules Utilize Touch Screen

A computer’s internal components aren’t the only factor in running a software product optimally. The way a doctor, nurse, or staff member interfaces with the software is also important. Imagine installing a VESA mountable computer only to find there’s no surface for using a keyboard or mouse and the computer isn’t touch-screen enabled! Touch screen functionality is important because it frees up the hands and removes the need for a physical keyboard if there’s no space for one. Plus, some EMR software products are only compatible with screens that are 24 inches diagonally in order to display all patient information. Computers with Epic certification are typically 24 inches or wider because of the visual aspect ratio for Epic; anything smaller and the software won’t run optimally—or at all.

Dedicated Video is a Must for some EMR Software

Surgeons using EMR software to give them instant video feedback—take an endoscopy for example—can’t use unclear, low-definition, choppy video to perform successful operations on patients. Upgrading to a surgical display equipped with a dedicated NVIDIA card is best for surgeons so they’re able to see in real-time what they’re doing as they perform on patients. Integrated video cards don’t provide that level of sophistication, so they pale in comparison to what a surgical display might provide.

Increased Software Security Means Increased Hardware Security

HIPAA violations are no laughing matter, and EMR software is developed with security in mind to prevent those violations. However, the software here dictates the requirements for hardware. Without a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), patient data is at a greater risk. TPMs encrypt patient information so drives can’t be pulled out of a medical computer and installed into a different computer, adding a layer of protection to sensitive information.

At Cybernet, we work with our partners to understand the complex challenges that healthcare IT professionals face on a daily basis. Because of that, we have engineered a full line of medical grade computers specifically engineered for multiple hospital and healthcare applications. For more information you can check out our website or contact us here.

 

medical computers and their role with patient engagement in telehealth

Here’s How Telehealth is Revolutionizing the Way We Practice Healthcare

Telehealth is a topic under heavy study because it’s extremely effective at reducing time and streamlining processes for medical care. It’s a complex umbrella term that addresses physician to patient interaction, how medical records are viewed and delivered, physician care and outreach, patient infotainment systems, and other important factors. One key aspect of telehealth is patient engagement technology which we are seeing improve over time with the rise of smaller, faster medical computers. Here are some ways patient engagement technology is changing telehealth and making healthcare more convenient for everyone.

Virtual Appointments are a Reality with Medical Computers

Online videoconferencing is the first telehealth innovation that comes to mind. It’s still a common practice for people to schedule appointments months in advance for an initial diagnosis and then follow-up appointments to treat or cure an ailment. If a patient needs information from a nurse, it still requires an appointment, more waiting, travel, another waiting room, etc. With the rise of telehealth, patients are able to skip waiting rooms and connect with a doctor or nurse via videoconference with a computer in nursing. If live appointments aren’t available, patients can still leave video messages and possibly show progress of a medicine’s effect. Nurses can hold “question and answer” sessions to keep patients informed and use visual aids to help patients understand their health complications. Plus, medical records can be updated on-the-fly using EMR software, streamlining the process from patient feedback to updating medical records. Growing advancements in this field have strengthened the interconnectivity of rural areas with hospitals. According to an online source published in 2012 called The Role of Telehealth in an Evolving Health Care Environment, telehealth reduces cost and increases quality of care for patients that can’t easily access the nearest hospital. A recent dermatology study showed physicians were able to increase their patient head count by approximately 270 per month with virtual appointments. Virtual appointments are a growing trend and studies reflect it!

Online Patient Portals are More Common

Patients in rural areas don’t always have the luxury of stopping by a clinic to get medical record printouts, so now there are online patient portals dedicated to showing medical records. Patients can even take questionnaires to narrow down a medicinal recommendation from a physician, request prescription refills, look at bill and payment history, or communicate directly with nurses in an orderly system to relay information about healthcare developments. As reported from the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, over 60 percent of hospitals let their patients view, download, and transfer their health data in 2014. It’s a real growing trend now because of technological advancements with medical computers and web-based interfaces that take the waiting process out of healthcare.

Medical Computers Have Started Remote Patient Monitoring

Patients of all types struggle with time and keeping proper records for a doctor’s evaluation. Diabetics must watch their diet and monitor their blood glucose levels to track their health records. Clinically obese individuals transfer their caloric burn rate to doctors, necessitating another appointment, more travel, and more waiting rooms. It’s the same across the board for individuals with limited lung function, insomnia, heart palpitations, dementia, and other patients with measurable results of their health problems. With the advent of telehealth, remote patient monitoring can be automated and sent to a physician almost immediately. It’s all done within the medical computer, streamlining the process of getting information to the doctors without human error introduced.  The benefits have showed in research as well. As before, the key aspect to telehealth is patient engagement, and keeping patients informed through doctors’ notes and information about their illnesses has shown increased rates of consistent medicine ingestion and other metrics. There are interactive disease management programs in the field (BeWell Mobile for instance) that let patients send their vital signs to their providers electronically with quick recommendations from their providers on what to do if their symptoms flare up. Another excellent example is called the Virtual Dental Home, a telehealth program that lets dental health professionals transfer information between each other to assist patients in remote locations.

Patient Engagement Solutions are Integrated into Hospitals

One of the most desired aspects of telehealth is connecting inpatients to their families during their (hopefully short) hospital stay. Patient infotainment systems are a standard in hospitals because hospital guests can remotely connect with anyone they desire over the internet, along with ordering food, watching movies, or calling staff when necessary. It’s part of the entire patient engagement package, ensuring patients are well-educated on their ailments so they understand their role in self-care.

These are all results of advancement in medical computer technology pushing telehealth to expand healthcare reach, cut down on waiting time, streamline communication, provide remote monitoring, increase patient engagement, connect patients remotely with doctors and family, and deliver an overall better patient care experience.

 

 

Understanding the Unique Requirements for Medical Computers in a Hospital Setting

Hospitals gather a large population of infected individuals in one place, so it’s difficult to keep nosocomial infections from happening. That requires different standards for hospital operation and use of equipment. One of the largest reasons for hospital beds and rooms filling up is the invisible agent—microbes and bacteria that pass on unwanted viruses and pathogens that can quickly affect a small population. Since medical computers and devices operate with patient care in mind, careful consideration of a device’s build, materials, controlling software, and other factors must pass FDA regulations and meet necessary standards. Plus, medical care is not just a “part time” task. Hospitals operate on a round-the-clock schedule—a health-related disaster can strike at a moment’s notice, especially within an intensive care unit. These specific reasons why medical computers and devices are unique to the hospital environment are examined in detail here.

Medical Computers Need Antimicrobial Housings

Medical grade computers are built with either an antimicrobial coating sprayed onto the device post production or include an antimicrobial resin mixed into the plastic housing during manufacturing. But what exactly does that mean? Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that describes a range of abilities that disinfect and ward off growth of microorganisms, often times originating from bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitical natures. The benefit of these medical computer builds is that even with passing microbes from surface to surface, the plastic housing of these medical computers discourages microbe growth. After multiple uses from several medical professionals, a computer built with antimicrobial plastics can still help prevent the spread of germs without constant disinfection. Recent news reports detail there was a bacterial outbreak at a nationally renowned hospital that infected ten patients, thankfully none of which were fatal. The patients were infants. An online report that detailed research into an Army ICU revealed MRSA bacteria living on keyboards, a problem that could have been alleviated with antimicrobial materials. It’s clear to see why medical computers require antimicrobial housing.

Medical Grade Computers Need to Meet Standards

One might ask what kind of regulations hardware and software might need for a hospital. A lot of consumer off-the-shelf products, both hardware and software, aren’t safe for patient and medical use. Consider what the implications could be using buggy software on a medical device! For that reason there are several rules, regulations, and standards for medical devices, some set by the International Electrotechnical Commission. One of the most accepted standards is the 60601-1 electrical and radiation standard, addressing verification, design methodology, risk / safety assessment for patients and staff, and other factors. It’s not possible to determine the total number of test cases for final revisions of hardware, which is why this standard is in place. Every revision this standard goes through brings significant changes to how medical grade computers and other devices must be built, often times focusing on the medical device’s operational distance to the patient. There are three distance classifications for the standard: B, BF, and CF. Type B operates near the patient, BF makes contact with the patient, and CF makes contact with a patient’s heart. Any medical device, whether in close vicinity or making contact with the patient, must meet the standards for safety. The FDA ensures medical grade computers and devices pass these standards for the safety of patients and the professionals that use them under the 510(k) regulation, requiring that manufacturers demonstrate their product is safe. There are a number of manufacturers that claim to have medical grade products, but haven’t actually been independently tested. Be sure to do your homework before any major hardware deployment.

Hospitals Need to Operate 24/7

Hospitals need to operate on a 24/7 timeline. Fortunately, the medical grade computers in question can operate with those time demands. It’s not just a matter of having a computer that’s always on—it’s a question of the computer’s internal components and if they’re intended to be on 24/7. For instance, many medical computers have an emergency back-up battery installed in order to remain functional during a power outage. Imagine if the power went out, all medical computers shut down, and all that patient data was lost! Even though most hospitals are equipped with backup generators, the seconds between a power outage and the generators coming online could result in massive data loss. Medical computers with hot swappable batteries eliminate the need to be reliant on an AC power source completely. These computers are powered by removable batteries and can provide up to 16 hours of run time before you need to exchange the batteries.

Medical grade computers cannot operate in the same manner that consumer-grade computers do; the implications of losing data, hardware malfunction, overheating, spread of germs, and other factors are far too great to sacrifice for patients. Plus, computers with moving parts are more likely to malfunction, especially under 24/7 operation.

One Must Consider the Application as Well

Even within a hospital, different departments have different needs. Operating rooms, labs, and ICU units are often sterile environments. In these environments,  a fanless medical computer would be required. To achieve fanless operation without overheating, these computers need to be built with specialized components that commercial grade manufacturers aren’t willing to invest in. The fanless operation prevents to spread of dust and germs through the air, which could be a major contamination concern in these high specialized areas.

In a perfect world, we’d be able to stop all nosocomial infections. For the world we live in, it’s important to use the right tools for hospital use to avoid spreading infection, keep patients safe, and operate at a moment’s notice without a high risk of failure. The published studies show that these are factors required by all hospitals to operate in the best manner possible.

The iPad Versus the Healthcare Industry: Security and Biometrics

The modern tablet has countless benefits for healthcare. Among them, Internet connectivity, interactive touch displays, and easy portability are some of the first that come to mind. With Apple’s introduction, over the past few years, of a fingerprint biometric scanner into their line of iPads, it might seem that the iPad is making a place for itself in the healthcare world. And for those of you working in healthcare outside of a hospital setting, that may even be true.

For hospitals and other medical facilities, however, the iPad’s rise is somewhat of an illusion, at least for now. Though the iPad provides some useful functionality for clinicians and other healthcare workers, it lacks many useful, if not crucial, features found in medical grade tablets like those of Cybernet’s CyberMed medical grade tablet line. Of these differences in features, some of the most substantial include:

  • No Antimicrobial Housing
  • Lack of Waterproofing
  • No Integrated Barcode Scanner
  • Consumer-grade Materials
  • Lack of Dedicated Medical Tools and Applications

 

Perhaps the most significant difference of all is the level of security each type of tablet provides. For a medical professional, the security of patient data and other sensitive information is critical. To ensure security, medical grade tablets offer a slew of proven and cutting-edge options. In this sense, the iPad’s adoption of a biometric security tool is a step in the right direction in terms of healthcare usability, though it’s still many steps away from becoming an acceptable medical tool.

Why Biometrics?

The value of biometric security in healthcare is in its usability. The convenience of technology like the fingerprint scanner is undeniable, especially compared to its older alternative: manual password input.

Passwords are not only difficult to input in a medical setting, but create a variety of other problems, from sanitary issues to the logistical problem of remembering and keeping track of, in many cases, over five unique passwords. In addition, these passwords should be, ideally, not written down, but remembered. The fact that passwords must be changed frequently to preserve their integrity only adds to the confusion.

In contrast to the many problems passwords present, biometric security allows near instantaneous access, without involving the user’s memory whatsoever. When this ease of use means even a slight increase in peace of mind in an already hectic environment, or time saved in situations where time may be of the essence, the difference is striking.

Apple’s Fingerprint Scanner

From point-of-view of view an average commercial consumer, Apple’s introduction of fingerprint scanning technology is cutting-edge. For healthcare professionals, however, the bar is already set much higher, with companies such as Imprivata actively developing medical grade fingerprint scanning technology.

Naturally, there is a significant difference between the security needed for a regular phone or tablet and that needed for a device containing sensitive patient information and access to prescription capabilities. A variety of detailed and purposefully crafted legislation exists with regards to technology standards and prescription medication, which Apple’s fingerprint scanner fails to satisfy all-around.

The ability for iPad users to enroll and re-enroll fingerprints also problematizes their use in a medical space. The true identity of the person operating the device becomes impossible to verify as users are able to re-enroll others’ fingerprints as their own. The fingerprint can then, essentially, belong to anyone, an issue which, for obvious reasons, invalidates the security benefit the fingerprint scanner initially provides.

Solutions to the identity problem exist in the form of third-party validated federated identities, but this feature should not be expected from Apple soon, if ever. Medical grade tablets, on the other hand, have the capability to provide all of these security features, in line with legislation, and many more.

RFID Reader and the Smart Card Reader

In addition to fingerprint scanning biometric technology, medical grade tablets, like those offered by Cybernet, also come with added security measures. If, for whatever reason, you are not able or not willing to use fingerprint scanning, or prefer to have added layers of protection, the RFID Reader and the Smart Card Reader technologies will suit your needs.

Both of these options provide lightning fast, low contact security solutions. Like the fingerprint scanner, these options replace the impracticality of passwords, and allow additional functionality in medical contexts. When wearing gloves, for example, the RFID Reader, which does not require the use of exposed hands, can ensure that authorized personnel are able to quickly access pertinent data, without compromising safety. The Smart Card reader provides similar functionality, though the applications extend far beyond these.

Overall, the iPad’s inferiority to medical grade tablets is unsurprising. The daily tablet use of regular consumers, whether in work or entertainment, differs greatly from that of on-the-job healthcare workers. And while Apple continues to dominate the consumer tablet market, Cybernet continues to develop tablets that cater beautifully to all of medicine’s needs.

How Medical Tablets Barcode Scanners Are Reducing Errors in Healthcare

Technology is dramatically changing health care as we know it. Patient care is improving. The speed in which medical decisions are being made about a patient’s care is quicker than ever. Electronic medical record (EMR) is making it easier for doctors and nurses to collaborate. As technology continues to fuel changes in the medical field, it should come as no surprise that new devices, designed specifically to enhance patient safety and simultaneously improve record-keeping accuracy, are emerging. Medical tablets that feature barcode scanners are one such piece of technology.

Here are a few ways they are benefitting hospitals.

BENEFIT 1: Reducing Admission Errors

Medical tablets that feature barcode scanners help improve the process of hospital admissions while keeping errors at bay. When a patient is admitted, a special wristband is printed out that features a barcode unique to that particular individual for that particular visit. A nurse can then easily scan the barcode using a barcode scanner on a medical grade tablet or attached to a desktop computer and begin recording information about the patient. This ensures there are no mistakes when recording pertinent information including the reason for admission, the room in which the patient is located, insurance and billing information, and the course of treatment, including supplies used and medications administered.

BENEFIT 2: Reducing Hospital Care Errors

Patients don’t always have the same doctor or nurse caring for them. With many hands involved in the process, without a system that recognizes what medication needs to be administered and what was given previously, errors are inevitable.  Using a medical tablet with a barcode system eliminates these types of errors.

When a nurse scans the medication and the patient’s wristband, the barcode software knows the proper amount that needs to be administered. If the wrong patient is scanned, then the medication cannot be dispensed. In the past, without a safeguard in place, a patient might have received incorrect medication.

Here are other problems that medical grade tablets with barcode scanners eliminate:

  • Misinterpretations of a patient’s chart
  • Incomplete or improper transcriptions
  • Faulty dose checking
  • Communication breakdowns
  • Adverse effects between different medicines

BENEFIT 3: Reducing Pharmacy Errors

Pharmacies play a vital role in improving the health of patients. Pharmacies can’t afford to make mistakes when people’s lives hang in the balance. With a barcode scanner, the information is uploaded the patient’s EMR. The pharmacist ensures the medication has a barcode before it leaves the pharmacy and makes its way to the nurse in charge.

The doctor decides the right level of medication and the pharmacy knows the correct amount to administer. Communication between doctor, nurse and pharmacy are in sync because the system updates so that any health professional using a medical tablet can easily access the information as it’s needed, in real time.

Without a barcode scanner in place, other problems can also potentially arise, including drug- stocking problems and a lack of standardization, which is critical for ensuring incorrect dosages don’t happen.

As technology continues to improve, it’s now more important than ever to be at the forefront of the latest technological advances in the medical field.  Medical grade tablets that feature barcode scanners will continue to improve patient care as we know it, including reducing errors. This means less indecisiveness and quicker decisions will be made because information will be more readily available – and accessible. The end result will be better record-keeping and patient care.

Differences Between a Regular Tablet and a Medical Grade Tablet

Technological advancements have changed our lives in numerous ways. A cleverly invented piece of technology that is increasing in popularity by leaps and bounds is the tablet. These devices have come into our lives, improving and increasing our productivity levels in ways we never dreamed possible even 5 years ago. What’s more, they have found their way into various specialized – and highly technical – industries. Regardless of the industry a tablet is being used in, the underlying technology remains the same. It’s important to note, however, that there are a variety of options available (depending on the manufacturer) that make them more practical for a particular industry.

The medical field has embraced the power of tablets and as a result, is improving the quality of patient care while increasing efficiency in the process. Here are a few ways medical grade tablets differ from the wide variety of consumer tablets available on the market today.

The core of medical grade tablets is pretty similar to regular consumer tablets. There are, however, some key differences that make these tablets hospital friendly.

One of the most important differences is that the medical grade tablets have an antimicrobial layer of protection. This reduces the transmission of germs and other microbes that can easily spread in a medical setting.

Other hardware differences include:

  • Integrated barcode scanners, which are useful for things like organizing hospital inventory and quickly logging patient date.
  • RFID readers, which ensure data stays secure also used to scan patient armbands and medications.
  • Smart card readers, which also offer a secure way of storing and reading patient’s data.
  • An external handle makes for easy carrying and reduces the risk of accidental drops.
  • A rigid aluminum outside case adds a layer of protection to the already shockproof and waterproof tablet. Tablets can be cleaned regularly without compromising performance.
  • A fanless tablet design minimizes the dispersal of unsterile matter into a sterile environment.
  • High performance batteries ensure uninterrupted operation throughout a work shift.
  • A multi-touch display allows the end user to keep gloves on while working with a patient.
  • Even though some regular tablets are compatible with various styluses, medical tablets are always equipped with one. This is important since it allows doctors and nurses to take notes immediately, as they are examining patients.

 

Medical tablets are revolutionizing healthcare as we know it.  They are helping doctors and nurses provide a higher quality of care while improving patient safety and satisfaction along the way.  They are minimizing errors and making it easier than ever for collaboration amongst doctors in different medical departments.

The first iPad was released five years ago and in the time since, it has changed the way we access information on a mobile level. With technology always improving, the next five years will introduce a time of seamless mobile integration that benefits both patients and healthcare professionals alike.