Tag Archives: medical 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 Outdated systems may struggle with electronic medical records (EMR), for instance, and require elaborate workarounds in order to function.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!

Patient Infotainment trends

4 Features to Look for in Bedside Medical Computers

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

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

Antimicrobial Features Are a Big Concern

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

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

Ease of Access Helps Your Staff’s Efficiency

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

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

Patient Accessibility Provides Swift Answers to Basic Questions

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

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

Infotainment Improves the Patient Experience

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

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

 

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

4 Ways That AI will Affect Medical Computer Systems

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

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

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

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

Upgradable Components Add Processing Power

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

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

Superior Imaging Helps AI Do Its Job

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

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

Everything Is Connected

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

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

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

 

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

RFID tablet medical tablet

BYOD Problems? Medical Tablets Are the Answer

BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device, a policy adopted by many businesses allowing for employees to use laptops, cell phones and other personal devices for business use. For organizations without security concerns, it makes an attractive and easy way to get around existing hardware issues. BYODs can save money without reducing efficiency, while giving employees the ability to work remotely in many cases.

Those are powerful incentives. According to a recent article at HealthIT Plus, 71 percent of clinicians report at least some BYOD use at their facilities… sometimes despite policies forbidding them. Such use can come about as a simple matter of necessity, such as a doctor using her cell phone to access hospital records while filling out paperwork at home. Other times, BYOD use arises as part of a coordinated policy on behalf of the hospital, hoping for the same benefits that other businesses enjoy.

But BYOD policies run into serious issues when meeting the demands of a medical facility, and if administrators aren’t careful, it could end up creating more problems than it solves.

For organizations looking to remove BYODs from the equation, and thus solve the issues they can present, the right hardware is a must. Certified medical tablet PCs can often fulfill the same needs as BYOD devices, allowing administrative staff to cut a very thorny Gordian knot cleanly and effectively.

What kind of needs do medical tablets fulfill, and who do they solve the problems created by BYOD? Here’s a short list of some specifics.

Security Can Be Better Maintained with Tablets

Security is a significant concern with medical devices. A patient’s health records can be worth a great deal of money on the black market, even more so than credit card numbers in many cases. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, such data breaches have cost the healthcare industry over $6 billion per year. Obviously, proper security is vital to maintain electronic medical records (EMR) and other data. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) establishes rigorous standards for privacy and security, with heavy fines levied against those who can’t meet those conditions.

For example, the FDA estimates that half of the 3.4 billion mobile phone users in the world have downloaded at least one medical-based application. For medical personnel, that percentage is likely much higher.  Medical organizations can ensure that such devices are HIPAA compliant and operating safely by implementing firewalls and unified threat management software to protect the network in the event of trouble. But BYODs rarely begin their service with such levels of protection, which means they need to be added before they can be considered safe. And when you multiply that potential across an entire organization – every cell phone used by every employee – the prospects for a major security headache multiply along with it.

Medical grade tablets owned and controlled by the organization, on the other hand, can use a single security system, as well as include integrated measures like RFID scanners and biometric readers which most BYODs lack. That not only permits the kind of security protections necessary to remain HIPAA complaint, but it allows staff to access them quickly and easily. And because the devices are dedicated solely to medical work, there’s no concern about overlap from a BYOD’s personal files. It provides better security in the event they are lost or stolen, since it can be much harder to access the data.

Medical Tablets Are Better Protected Against Germs and Illnesses

Illnesses are a constant concern in hospitals and medical facilities, and without proper care being taken, nosocomial infections (infections originating in the hospital and being passed through it) and similar threats can arise very quickly. Mobile devices can easily carry germs and viruses, since medical staff handle them regularly and even carry them from patient to patient. It’s a serious problem. According to the CDC, approximately 1.7 million patients are afflicted with hospital acquired illnesses (HAI) in the U.S. every year, and of those, approximately 99,000 are fatal.

BYOD devices are particularly vulnerable to this. Since they’re intended for consumer use, they lack antimicrobial protection. They usually can’t be disinfected either, since applying liquid to them can cause them to short out and become useless. And if they are used outside the medical facility, there’s no telling what kinds of illnesses can come piggy-backing in when a well-meaning staff member brings it to work.

Medical-grade tablets provide more formal protection against germs and illnesses. Antimicrobial properties baked into their housing helps them repel biological contaminants. In addition, tablets that are IP65 certified can be disinfected with liquid cleansers without running a risk of damage to the tablet itself, which further prevents the spread of illness in a hospital setting.

IT Headaches Go Up with BYOD

Cellphones, personal tablets and consumer PCs at home can come from almost anywhere and entail dozens of different models and systems. That can be a serious handful for your IT department, which needs to keep the devices in your organization maintained and operating. Even something as comparatively mundane as an iPhone update can wreak havoc in a medical environment with BYODs. That, in turn, can waste huge amounts of time and resources as the IT staff struggles to keep numerous different devices updated and coordinated.

Dedicated medical tablet PCs and similar portable devices simplify that issue considerably. An “in-house” system eliminates the morass of hardware and software in favor of a single model and OS. When problems arise, they can be dealt with swiftly. If updates are needed, they can be implemented across the entire network without having to make adjustments. That allows your IT personnel to do their jobs more effectively, and allows them to focus on other pressing issues instead of constantly trying to integrate a new phone or updated OS from a BYOD.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers an array of medically certified tablets and computers for use in a hospital setting. If you’re looking for a solution to the BYOD dilemma, contact us today.

Medical Device End of Life Cycle

3 Reasons Why End of Life Matters for Medical Equipment Manufacturers

The end of life (EoL) or PC life cycle is an important topic in the medical device manufacturing world. A PC life cycle can be defined as a cycle that describes the usefulness of a desktop or laptop computer to an agency, from its initial acquisition through its ultimate disposal—a fitting definition. Cybernet’s entire line of medical computers have a 3-5 year life cycle that’s determined by evaluating several factors—longevity of all computer components, intent of each computer, average use time, environmental factors, software that’s to be used, and other reasons. Sometimes, however, medical computers go through revision changes that can signify an end of life, and the process from revision change back to full certification is highly involved! The revision process to certify a medical computer just to control a specific medical device can be a complicated thing, especially if the two devices don’t communicate well. Here are some ways that the end of life cycles affect medical device manufacturers and the processes that happen behind the scenes.

End of Life Cycles Means Customers Must Review Changes

End of Life for certain components in a system doesn’t mean just replacing said components; it takes time to review what changes were made, suggest implications for impact, and go through a process called design verification for both hardware and software. All settings, drivers, and applications need adjustment to fit the new drive images. The devices must be rigorously tested together, bugs must be addressed both on a software and hardware level, and then the results must be sent to the FDA to ensure an entirely seamless validation.  All documentation (the device master record, drawings, etc.) that is associated with the hardware in question must be updated too. Verification and validation are two intense procedures—validation is defined per Wikipedia as the assurance that a product, service, or system meets the needs of the customer and other identified stakeholders. Verification is defined as the evaluation of whether or not a product, service, or system complies with a regulation, requirement, specification, or imposed condition. These are at the heart of design verification, just one component of the entire implementation from A to Z. That doesn’t even factor in signatures and approvals from medical device executives and FDA individuals. These processes are highly involved and can take anywhere from several weeks to several months for implementation depending on the severity of changes—even a small revision to a tiny component! It’s clear that these steps are under heavy scrutiny and take careful thought to move through. The goal is to ensure hospital satisfaction and patient safety in all these steps, which leads to…

End of Life Cycles Mean More Certifications Are Coming

FDA approvals alone are difficult to achieve since all of our medical computers must be rigorously tested with the medical devices in question. Any revisions or changes to a medical computer must be resubmitted for certification in order to work with medical devices again. Imagine the implications of having an untested medical computer on an x-ray machine! Even a pair of similar computers don’t have the same electromagnetic compatibility (or EMC), so switching computers on a medical device isn’t very simple. Introducing an untested medical computer to a medical device could cause it to malfunction, necessitating months and perhaps years of testing before certifications. That doesn’t even consider global certifications, as every locale where our medical grade computers may be used could have vastly different requirements. Different certifications can cost more time, resources, and money, sometimes in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What that Means for The Operator and Patient

The FDA categorizes medical devices into three classes of risk, the third class being the highest risk—pacemakers, for example. Patient and operator lives are at risk when working with class 3 medical devices, but those cannot be put to market without full verification and validation. The FDA requires full V&V for Cybernet’s medical computers to function with class 3 medical devices, a process that is ensured through rigorous testing, retesting, and approval. Patient and operator safety is in good hands when a medical computer’s end of life is in question—every computer out of our warehouse that interfaces with a medical device isn’t just some assemblage of parts that works with machines. They are fully-approved and certified medical computers designed from the ground up for patient and operator safety. Yes, it takes time and money for our customers to use these computers with their medical devices. That’s just proof that we are second to none in this amazing industry.

 

10 Ways Hospitals Can Boost Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency presents both a challenge and an opportunity for healthcare facilities. The main challenge is the unique circumstances healthcare facilities face. Regulatory requirements, infection control, the intensity of energy and water use, 24/7 uninterrupted operation set healthcare facilities apart from commercial ones. Thus, energy efficiency in healthcare requires different strategies than those that are effective for other industries.

In an environment where so many other priorities such as patient safety, system redundancy, equipment reliability are urgent, energy efficiency can get overlooked. Yet, escalating costs of health care and a changing formula for hospitals reimbursement urge hospitals to prioritize saving money. Luckily, boosting energy efficiency is a win-win scenario, as efficient energy management contributes to not only savings but an increase in profits and a decrease in a hospital’s carbon footprint.

“A 30% savings in energy costs has the potential to improve profitability by up to 1%. That can translate to a savings of nearly $1,444,000 in 28 patient days for a typical 235-bed hospital with a 59.8% maintained bed occupancy,” states a study by Schneider Electric.

Have A Plan, Define Efficiency

Reducing energy consumption requires a detailed plan, staff buy-in from C-suite to cleaning workers, benchmarking and commitment. All the steps towards energy efficiency in a healthcare facility can be divided into 2 categories: quick improvements with 6-12 months payback and long-term goals with 5-10 years returns in savings and increased revenue. Simple solutions are realized first, allowing the energy saving effort to gain momentum.

30% of energy consumed in hospitals is used unnecessarily, according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Understanding what efficiency means is the first step that will significantly decrease energy spending in the first 12 months. Efficient does not mean less, it means appropriate use and management of systems and equipment.

Measure Your Facility’s Overall Energy Performance

To know you’re saving with energy efficiency, you have to measure your current performance first. Benchmarking a facility’s energy performance using the EPA’s free tool Energy Star Portfolio Manager gives hospitals a clearer idea of their energy usage. Its algorithm enables hospitals to compare their energy use intensity measurements to national averages, normalizing differences in climate, size, and operational intensity.

Audit

An energy audit, according to Department of Energy’s Advanced Energy Retrofit Guide for Healthcare Facilities, is the next necessary step after benchmarking. Facilities can hire outside consultants or employ an on-site manager to conduct a thorough audit of all systems. The aim is to detect inefficiencies while the methods vary from simple walkthroughs to placing submeters on individual systems in a building, and comprehensive analysis.

Eliminate Leaks

Before you invest in new equipment, detect which pieces might be leaking energy. Perhaps, some equipment consumes energy when it is turned off. For clinics that operate during business hours only, this means the equipment is consuming energy 16 hours a day while idling. Deploying energy-efficient power strips can prevent such energy leaks while the equipment is not used.

HVAC Optimization

American Society for Healthcare Engineering’s (ASHE) Sustainability Roadmap recommends HVAC preventive maintenance as a sure means of reducing energy costs. Retrocommissioning existing HVAC equipment and controls reduces energy spending at hospitals by 10%. HVAC equipment tends to fall out of calibration over time, or its systems are often used unnecessarily 24/7, so looking at HVAC alone will give you fast results.

From timely replacement of air handling filters, replacement of leaking steam traps and cleaning cooling towers to more thought-through changes such as turning heating/cooling down or off when and where it is not needed, HVAC optimization is a no- or low-cost effort with instant gain. In many cases, it requires reprogramming different schedules individually in the building control systems. For example, administrative areas do not require 24/7 climate control.

Kitchen and Laundry

The same holds true for kitchen and laundry systems – not every washing requires hot water rinse. So, instead of using hot-rinse for everything, your personnel can program cold-rinse when appropriate, effectively reducing energy consumption.

Equipment Replacement and Upgrades

In most cases, healthcare facilities replace equipment with more energy-efficient and modern options when the old equipment’s lifecycle comes to an end, or it becomes depreciated altogether. However, if you detect a piece of equipment that is a real energy hog, consider replacing or upgrading it ahead of time.

For example, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center upgraded their 8-year old Dräger MDS III Anesthesia Workstations by replacing too expensive to maintain computers with CyberMed H22 Medical Grade All in One Computer. In the modular workstations, the anesthesia machines have longer life cycles than the PCs, so replacing the PCs by more energy-efficient and modern computers not only helped cut the energy waste but extended the life of the anesthesia equipment.

Hospitals invest in digitization as mandates the ACA anyway, so the decision-making staff should be informed about the energy efficiency requirements when selecting new equipment. When considering patient infotainment systems, office back-end desktop computers, medical monitors and medical tablets used by doctors, nurses and emergency units, they must take into account power consumption.

The medical PCs with Power over Ethernet capability use half of the power of a typical PC and remain powered even during power outages, as long as the server is up. More so, when introducing new systems such as infotainment, or upgrading to an EMR, PACs, VoIP or mobile, hospitals upgrade their power and cooling systems 87% of the time within one year of implementation. Computers with PoE allow hospitals to reduce or avoid that spending.

When replacing dated washing machines and dishwashers, printers, scanners, and water coolers, opt for energy-efficient models with Energy Star. These consume 30-75% less energy than standard models.

Medical equipment manufacturers produce ever-more sustainable models. MRI and CT scanners now come lighter and smaller, use 50% less energy and operate 75% faster than dated systems. Their radiation output is minimized, so they require less shielding. Energy savings stemming from newer equipment are evident.

Going Smart

Projects with longer returns on investment produce tremendous payback. Operating rooms’ air changes can be configured to 6 per hour when the OR is not in use instead of always running on the minimum of 20 per hour for when it is used. The configuration can rely on motion sensors, or be triggered by lights going off.

Replacing fluorescent tubes with LED tubes is another route many facilities are taking to reduce energy costs.

Redesigning waste management can result in $0.4 per patient a day savings over five years, says a Commonwealth Fund study. Eliminating red medical waste bags misuse, installing Wi-Fi-enabled cans with smart sensors that compact trash and signal when they’re full can amount to significant savings.

Motivating Staff

The energy efficiency efforts require staff commitment. There are many ways of achieving that, from online classes and quizzes to on-site training and committees, messages on the electronic message boards, newsletters, or to more involving, friendly competitions among departments, with subsequent rewards and praise.

Going Green

Renewable sources of energy require considerable investment with long-term returns. Still, in an era when entire nations shift to renewable sources and eliminate their dependence on fossil fuel, healthcare facilities need to act proactively. Be it solar, wind, or geothermal sources, buildings under construction or facilities with direct access to renewable sources of energy must explore their opportunities.