Tag Archives: medical grade tablets

medical grade PCs

4 Things Medical Device Manufacturers Should Look for in a Tablet

Medical device manufacturers create a variety of tools and instruments that make vital procedures possible: anything from endoscopes to X-ray machines. In many cases, a tablet is required to act in conjunction with their device, serving as the means of control the device, capture data or display video feeds.

That usually requires hardware beyond just an out-of-the-box commercial grade tablet, which often lacks the features necessary to work with medical devices. Medical grade tablets provide a much better option for manufacturers interested in smooth integration and optimal performance. It is important to understand what features differentiate a medical tablet from a commercial grade tablet, and why those features matter. Here are four things to look for when deciding on the best tablet.

Medical Certifications

Medical devices must work in close proximity to patients. Many need to function in an OR environment, with a number of different devices all functioning at one time, and in the case of some devices (such as an endoscope), they must be inserted directly into the patient’s body. Imagine if an integrated tablet has a power surge while a medical device was inserted in a patient, or if the electromagnetic discharge of that device interfered with something like a heart monitor. The results could be catastrophic.

The right medical tablet PC will carry the proper certifications to avoid such issues. More specifically, they will be IEC/UL 60601-1 certified for near-patient use, allowing the tablet to work in conjunction with your device. That means it won’t create problems during a sensitive operation requiring multiple pieces of machinery and can be used safely with bedside devices such as mechanical ventilators.

Also look for IP65 certification, indicating that the tablet is protected from exposure to liquid. That allows it to be cleaned properly without disrupting its functionality: keeping it sterile as easily as the medical device to which it is attached, and eliminating any potential health risk to the patient. It also means that it can function safely in an operating room or similar environment, where liquids like saline solutions are common and can create problems for tablets without such protection.

Processing Power

Medical devices can oftentimes require an embedded device with a lot of processing power. Depending upon the device they are linked to, their duties can include running software applications swiftly and efficiently, providing video capture features for clear and accurate images of the patient’s condition, and allowing swift access to associated electronic medical records (EMRs) for comparison purposes. An underpowered tablet or one designed for personal use simply won’t be able to hold up under the strain.

Medical tablet computers, on the other hand, have the ability to meet those tough demands. Depending on the application, a device manufacturer might need to find a tablet with a powerful processor, expandable RAM or even a large hard drive (as much as 128 GB) to provide instant video feedback, run multiple applications at the same time or store multiple images or videos.

Customizability

Different devices have different ports, and not all of them can connect to your average out-of-the-box tablet. Basic interface between a tablet and a medical device can quickly dissolve into a nightmare of crossover cables and adapters… and in some cases may not be able to connect to your device at all.

The answer lies in customization: the ability to integrate any port required in the tablet’s design. Not only does that ensure that the port connections are exactly what your product needs, but if you ever need to change the ports or add new ones onto your design, you can still rely on the same tablet to meet those changing needs. (Customization also provides ports for legacy devices and similar equipment that may still be working perfectly well but lack an updated connection to connect to more modern machines. That in turn, helps improve your product’s longevity and utility over time.)

Product Longevity

Speaking of longevity, you may have noticed how often electronics manufacturers are coming out with new models. Technology advances in leaps and bounds, and commercial-grade tablets thrive on releasing new models on a regular basis. It makes sense from a business perspective – witness the infamous long lines at Apple stores whenever a new iPad is released – but it simply won’t do when it comes to medical devices. Every time new hardware shows up, your device needs to be re-certified, re-tested and often upgraded. And if that USB connection port moves from the right side to the left side, that might mean needing to redesign an entire device just to accommodate a small change in the embedded tablet design. This can be extremely time consuming and costly for a device manufacturer. By the time a device is certified, the commercial grade tablet they’ve selected might not even be available anymore.

A medical tablet built for a long lifecycle, on the other hand, eliminates the problems of frequent upgrades. That means less time spent on integrating new systems, re-certification and similar steps. Look for tablets with 3-5 year lifecycles, as well as quality warranties, customer phone support and similar features.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing produces a line of medically certified medical tablets that meet the high demands of medical device manufacturers. If you need tablets with the right features to work alongside your devices, contact us today to hear more.

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 tablets and tablet with barcode scanner

3 Usages of Medical Tablets in a Mobile Environment

As the health landscape changes, the technology adapts to fit the needs of the people. Healthcare professionals strive to reach patients that aren’t always able to travel to healthcare centers; that’s one of the reasons why telehealth usage has grown in the past few years. As technologies adapt to smaller forms and communication capability increases, more individuals that can’t frequent hospitals or clinics are seeing the benefit of medical tablets. They’re being used in various ways to improve the lives of patients while removing the pains of commuting and increasing convenience. Here are three usages of these tech-smart devices where older, less mobile technology wouldn’t be viable to use.

Mobile Blood Banks are All the Rage

It’s true there’s a critical blood shortage in the US. The American Red Cross often calls out for blood donors since blood is often in short supply. Complex medical procedures call for large quantities of donated blood, and as these procedures increase in frequency and complexity, donated blood reserves dry up. As recent as September of 2017 it’s reported that The Red Cross is behind by roughly half of the necessary units for daily optimal operations. One of the ways The Red Cross is gathering blood is by organizing and running blood drives.

These blood drives often employ medical practitioners to travel to various sites and use medical tablets to track the blood withdrawn and then have it preserved for use later. It’s convenient for individuals willing to donate since often times mobile blood banks are at traffic-heavy events where anyone can sign up and donate blood to help patients and victims of disasters. With the extensive battery life of a medical tablet, a blood bank can be in service for several hours to collect all the donations needed.

The same technology is heavily used by emergency response teams. Patients in dangerous car wrecks or people that have fallen victim during a natural disaster can be administered blood via a medical tablet. A paramedic can test to see what blood type a patient has, locate and identify a compatible blood reserve using a tablet with barcode scanner, and then use the tablet to track the blood while they’re being prepped for hospital admittance. The time saved matters.

Combating the Opioid Crisis with Medical Tablets

Time reports that in 2016 alone, the ongoing opioid crisis claimed more than 42,000 lives. There’s been a nationwide effort to reduce opioid overdose incidents, but the problem is still prevalent. With this medical crisis on the rise, a lot of less fortunate victims that have strong addictions to painkillers and other drugs may need emergency on-the-site assistance from first responders in the event of a patient collapsing.

An emergency team can use a medical tablet to diagnose and administer proper dosages of medicine to treat drug addicts and save lives. The tablets used could be used to immediately send patient information, vital signs, condition, and other information via the 4G wireless technology in order for medical staff to prep for immediate hospitalization. When it comes to overdoses, seconds can be the difference between life and death. Any advantage that first responders can gain in that race can save lives. 

Medical Tablets Hit the Streets

An opioid addiction isn’t the only reason tablets might be fielded—sufferers of agoraphobia, the disabled, eldery, and homeless patients that need medical help can’t easily help their selves to nearby healthcare outlets.

Medical staff can use a medical tablet to perform telehealth operations and visit those who aren’t able to check in to clinics. Those immobile or bedridden can stay indoors and have a doctor diagnose and treat patients using the built-in wireless technology. Or, a tablet could be paired with a medical device to diagnose or examine health problems. Therapists and psychologists can hold telehealth sessions via medical tablets to consult with their patients. Scheduling, prescribing medication, and transmitting patient information can all be wrapped into a familiar platform for doctors and nurses. Telehealth capability skyrockets with using this new form of sophisticated technology.

 

Medical tablets are the new standard for mobile healthcare, simply put. The boost in communication, capability, versatility, process time reduction, human error reduction, paperwork minimization, and telehealth capability is second to none. The possibilities as this new technology develops more over time are virtually endless. Contact us to learn more.

RFID tablet medical tablet

RFID Tablet Technologies Solving Problems in the Hospital

A hospital is an unpredictable environment. One moment hallways are calm and clear; the next, staff are bustling to get a patient into the emergency room. Errors are not uncommon. Thankfully, technology has evolved over time to address a lot of the problems we’ve seen in the past arising from miniscule errors. RFID is one of the technologies incorporated into the daily use of hospital tech that has been exceptionally beneficial for many reasons. Here are some problems hospitals commonly face that can be solved using a medical tablet with RFID technology.

Asset Tracking Using an RFID Tablet

A recent news report detailed a VA hospital was missing over 1 million worth of hospital equipment over the course of several years due to various reasons—improper and erroneous tracking, theft, or misplacement. Clearly, the costs add up quickly over time. Radiology departments are no stranger to loss either. They’re usually inundated with lots of equipment, both large and small. It’s easy to misplace a lead marker for protection against high radiation levels because they’re such tiny devices. Just one lead marker costs approximately 20 dollars, and if they’re constantly misplaced the cost can add up quick.  Missing equipment, such as radiation markers, can be outfitted with RFID tags, and hospital staff can locate each tagged object using a medical tablet with RFID. It helps to prevent misplacement and theft. The technology pays for itself.

RFID Tablets Aren’t Just for Tracking Equipment

We understand that the hospital is one of the last places anyone wants to have an extended stay, and so some patients—especially the elderly and mentally unhealthy—may be inclined to wander or hide. There was a recent case in South Africa of a patient hiding in the ceiling of a hospital and staff wasn’t able to locate the patient for 13 days. Some sources online cite over a hundred babies were abducted from nurseries between the 1960s and today. RFID tablet technology can track where people are moving via tagged wristbands so, in the unlikely but very real situation of missing people or abductions, they can be located. RFID tablets protect lives. Misplacing a 30 thousand dollar surgical drill is one asset loss, but it doesn’t hold a candle to missing people.

Equipment Status Can be Tracked Too

Online studies point to numerous cases where unsterilized or improperly sterilized instruments transferred infections to surgical patients. Hospital infections can easily transfer if an instrument isn’t sterilized improperly—or at all. Medical staff can use an RFID tablet to implement new processes of ensuring instruments used in surgery are free of infection. Even linens can be tracked. Before they’re secured onto a bed, sheets with laundry tags can be scanned using a medical tablet with RFID to check their sterilization status. Infections drop, patients are healthier.

RFID Equals Improved Data Security

RFID technology doesn’t simply have to be about tracking equipment and inventory. Patient records must be kept secure. More and more hospitals are switching to some form or two factor authentication to sign into medical computers and tablets. Imprivata SSO is the standard that most hospitals used, and an RFID tablet that is already Imprivata certified means that your patients’ medical records are safe from data theft. Even in the event of the physical theft of a tablet, it would be impossible to access EMR software without the RFID card necessary to login. This not only keeps your patient records safe but also insulates a hospital from any potential lawsuits that might happen as the result of a data breach.

 

RFID goes beyond just saving a hospital money from replacing missing equipment—it protects the lives of the patients and medical staff in a myriad of ways. Ensure your hospital has the proper technology to track all inventory, assets, and patients. Contact us here today to see how you can drive down costs from unnecessary spending and costly accidents in your hospital.

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.

patient engagement and medical tablets

3 Problems Hospitals Face that Can Be Reduced with Medical Computers

There are hiccups in workflow and patient care caused by universal problems in hospitals, but thankfully they can be shrunk. Before the communication age revolutionized how we do work, mistakes were abundant and costly. Fortunately for us now, productivity is higher and manual methods of patient care have been automated enough so error is nearly eliminated—for hospitals that stay current with technological trends, that is. Sometimes hospitals can get left behind by not advancing their technology to what’s available in the 21st century. Here are some problems tech-slow hospitals still face.

The Medical Tablet to Solve Medication Problems

There are a myriad of medication problems that aren’t as apparent with face value—improper medicine choice, prescription errors (yes, illegibility), improper medication strength, improper labeling, it’s an exhaustive list. These errors are classified as either knowledge, rule, action, or memory-based errors. These errors, all related to human interaction, occur when distractions are frequent or staff is overworked. We could go into detail about every possible example of an error and the simple reasons behind them, but the simple fact is that they occur and there are methods of reducing their frequency.

Remove the human error out of medication handling by using a medical computer or tablet with barcode scanner. You can identify a patient by their medical wristband by scanning it and then feeding that information into a medical device. A medical tablet can consult a database of medications upon scanning the patient wristband barcode, identify the correct medication, access previous healthcare records, pull previous dosage requirements, send information to a printer for proper labeling, dispense and bottle the medication, and then print the correct label, removing human error out of the mix. It’s a completely automated ailment-to-solution process for patients.

Constant Communication is a Must

According to The Joint Commission, communication problems lead to 70 percent of patient care delays. So how do we improve communication to see that percentage shrink? It’s not like all medical staff are available to take an impromptu meeting, and it’s certainly not ethical to pull out a cell phone in the middle of conversation with a patient to answer a text. Highly effective, constant communication is a must, especially after a nurse meets with a patient to discuss whatever pressing topic is on their minds—if a patient requests changes in medication, doctors should be notified immediately.

Nurses and medical staff can ensure constant communication as a group or on an individual basis with medical tablets. Some (if not all) EHR systems utilize texting software to instantly update all connected individuals of matters in the hospital. Using a touch-screen keyboard and their EHR software, they can text individuals as a group or just a single person for immediate information sending. A medical tablet is a better choice over other electronic devices because if any patient information is shared via a text, the information is kept secure and protected on the medical tablet. Plus, the proper medical tablets are durable enough to withstand shock and accidental damage in the case of a staff member with butterfingers.

Giving Power to the Patients

Decades ago, patients relied solely on nurses and staff to cater to each bedside request—and the staff wasn’t always available at the press of a button. Imagine you’re a nurse and three patients press the call button at the same time. There’s a conundrum of time and priority.

When patient engagement technology took off, it empowered the bedridden by giving them access to a food menu at whim, entertainment with a selection of movies, and an opportunity to stay in contact with whomever they wanted via teleconference. It’s trends in patient engagement that enhance a person’s independence by controlling more by the bedside to make their stay a little brighter. Nurses are called to the bedside less frequently so patient care can be their sole focus.

Addressing technological problems in “slow” hospitals is vital to overall success—that being sending patients home happy and in better health—and the technical solutions mentioned above are prime for seeing those problems go away. In the 21st century, hospitals need better technology to ensure fewer errors and empower patients. Don’t be left in the dust while other hospitals are miles ahead. Take a look at what we have to offer to modernize your healthcare facility and contact us today to see how we can help you improve the overall patient experience in your facility.

 

 

 

 

hot swappable battery on a workstation with wheels

Safety Awareness in Hospitals with Workstations on Wheels

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

Medical Cart Batteries Have Caught Fire

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

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

Clean Up Clutter with a Workstation on Wheels

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

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

Protect Against the Unseen Hazard

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

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

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

patient engagement technology and medical tablets

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

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

Are We Already Headed Down this Path?

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

CHR and Big Data: How Accurate is the Information?

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

Is the CHR Data Secure Enough?

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

CHR Data and the Implications of Insurance

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

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


 

medical 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.