Tag Archives: medical tablet

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

How Medical Tablets with RFID Scanners Can Save Hospitals Money

How Medical Tablets with RFID Scanners Can Save Hospitals Money

The state of the healthcare industry is ever-changing, and medical providers need to focus both their time and their resources on ways to improve the quality of care for their patients as well as managing their company budget. Medical tablets with RFID scanners not only can streamline asset tracking but also help organizations cut back on costs in other areas.

Statistics show that 10 to 20% of mobile hospital assets are either lost or stolen and that the average cost per missing item is nearly $3,000. Also, 40% of hospital pharmacy funds are spent on “rush” orders, and these could very easily be prevented with better asset tracking.  What’s worse is that whopping three-quarters of the total time spent on hospital maintenance, as well as one-third of that of hospital nurses, is often wasted on searching for supplies. This essentially takes away from the quality of care given to hospital patients. One of the greatest challenges many hospitals and other medical facilities face is helping their already overextended workers spend less of their time on activities other than patient care.

One way that hospitals and other medical facilities are tackling these challenges is by investing in devices that utilize single sign on technology like that provided by Imprivata. These devices contain biometric readers or RFID technology that eliminates the need for manual password entry, making logging in to devices quicker and far more secure. Medical tablets with RFID technology offer hospitals a much better way to maximize their overall efficiency and reduce their amount of waste. Medical tablets with embedded RFID scanner give the users the ability to both track and manage all of their mobile assets and their patients. Medical grade tablets enable RFID data capture that does not require line of sight, thus allowing users to capture multiple tags in a single pass without having to move any equipment. It is also an ideal option for medication and supply storage areas requiring consistent monitoring, as it reads literally hundreds of tags each second, making for quick, easy and convenient monitoring of inventory.

Additionally, scanning and analyzing patient rooms, medical procedure areas, stock rooms, hospital labs, and numerous other areas with RFID-enabled medical grade tablet can be completed in just a few short seconds. There are a variety of ways hospitals can implement and utilize medical tablets with RFID technology in an effort to save their business a lot of money.

Here are a few of them…

Asset Tracking

Medical grade tablets with RFID scanners can be utilized for detecting and timestamping the movements of critical hospital assets in order to locate them quickly whenever they’re needed. This reduces both lost and theft of hospital equipment and supplies, thus improving overall productivity and quality of patient care. The collected data can then be used for managing equipment flow processes as well as for resource planning purposes.

Inventory Control

Medical tablet PCs with RFID technology can also be utilized for providing continuous automated inventory monitoring, and it can alert hospital personnel whenever minimum levels have been reached, as well as when the amount of stock is nearing expiration. This ensures the availability of medical products and treatments, thus preventing unnecessary and potentially costly rush orders from occurring.

Injection Safety

One of the most tangible manifestations of medical equipment management, wherein RFID scanning promises a sea change, is injection safety. The process is simple but effective – RFID tags are incorporated within patient wristbands, making all prescription data available to a care provider through a medical tablet. This information also connects to the hospital’s injection drug inventory and dispensing records, enabling a watertight monitoring system for better injection safety. This technology was successfully adopted by Tokyo based Sanraku Hospital, in collaboration with BayNexus.

Radiology Department

Radiology equipment undergoes frequent quality checks by means of government inspections. Medical tablets with RFID scanning make this process more efficient. An effort by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center illustrates this. RFID tags were sewn into X-ray protection vests in order to locate them quickly during an inspection. RFID has also been instrumental in managing the contrast media vials inventory of a Florida hospital’s Radiology Department. Contrast media is commonly injected into patients undergoing MRIs; however, it is highly toxic for patients with compromised kidney function. Contrast media vials thus need to be regularly, meticulously and accurately monitored, a task that is greatly simplified when RFID technology comes embedded in medical grade tablets used by the personnel.

Healthcare IT Asset Management

Locating and protecting hospital devices that may contain private, sensitive and protected information or other data can be conveniently and efficiently carried out with the use of medical tablets with RFID scanners, thus maintaining compliance with HIPAA data security laws.

Patient Tracking

Should any incident of the type occur, RFID-enabled medical tablets aid in the prevention of medical mistakes and errors due to patient misidentification – and also alert first responders and other personnel nearby. Additionally, RFID badges provide patient relatives and other visitors with secure, temporary ID access that can be easily scanned by the staff using medical tablets.

Infection Control

Taking patient tracking a step further, medical tablets with RFID scanners enable hospital staff to keep tabs on people coming into contact with patients with contagious diseases. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital has set up a monitoring team especially for the purpose of evaluating RFID tracked data for possible infection screening.

There are many other ways in which RFID scanning helps prevent nosocomial infections. For instance, a RFID enabled wristband for hospital staff, developed by startup IntelligentM, is designed to ensure that hand-washing standards are met by means of a simple vibrating alert.

Additionally, medical tablets with RFID are completely antimicrobial including the casing and the touchscreen. IP65 sealed bezels allow them to withstand disinfection with liquid solutions, so hospitals can ensure the devices used by staff and the patients are sterile.

In conclusion, medical tablets with RFID technology can help hospitals and other healthcare facilities save money and improve their security, efficiency and overall quality of patient care. RFID-enabled medical tablets lower costs, simplify deployment and maximize company ROI.

Prevent Physician Burnout with Health IT That Lifts The Burden

EHR can help providers. A lot has been said about how exactly EHR can help everyone in the health care. However, when providers implement EHR the physician productivity and patient satisfaction suddenly drop. The factor often unaccounted for is how the new technology blends with the end users, and the time it takes for the new technology to prove its ROI. We are several years into implementing the EHR systems across the country, but the numerous surveys continue ringing the alarm on the physician burnout that is at an all-times high. EHR and increased computerization are among the top 3 causes of burnout, as reported by the physicians.

HIT Paradox

The study funded by the American Medical Association (AMA) shows how physicians are overloaded with bureaucratic and clerical work that is not related directly to patient care:

For every hour physicians provide direct clinical face time to patients, nearly 2 additional hours is spent on EHR. Outside office hours, physicians spend another 1 to 2 hours of personal time each night doing additional computer and other clerical work,” according to Annals of Internal Medicine. “During the office day, physicians spent 27% of their total time on direct clinical face time with patients and 49.2% of their time on (electronic health records) and desk work.”

According to the 2016 Medscape Lifestyle report, the burnout among US physicians “has reached a critical level.” The severity of the burnout was measured on the scale of 1 (lowest) to 7 (severe). Most specialties rated the severity of their burnout at 3.85 – 4.74.

The top 3 causes of burnout (again, on the scale of 1 to 7) are:

  • Too many bureaucratic tasks – 4.84
  • Spending too many hours at work – 4.14
  • Increasing computerization – 4.02

A Mayo Clinic NEJM Catalyst Insights Council survey polled clinical leaders and executives on the same issue. 96% of respondents agree that physician burnout is a serious or moderate problem, which remains largely unaddressed inside the organizations. As the top reasons to address the problem, the respondents cite decreased quality of care (63%), the effect on the attitude of the rest of the team (38%), and physician suicide (8%).

Here, again, the top causes of physician burnout are:

  • Increased clerical burden due to the use of EHR – 62%
  • Increased productivity requirements/expectation – 51%

Ironically, EHR is the reason the productivity expectations increased. The use of EHR is reported to disrupt the established workflow, forcing the physicians to “carry their workload into off-hours, or “pajama time.”

Why You Should Care

  • The burnout causes errors and poses a direct threat to the lives and well-being of both physicians and patients. Most likely, the surveys do not reflect the full picture because they are based on volunteer respondents’ answers. What about those who refused to participate? They are likely to avoid the subject of burnout because a) it can raise questions regarding their ability to deliver at their workplace; b) fear of being stigmatized (as any mental issue tends to lead to stigma).
  • The staff engagement in any new strategy a provider is deploying to cut costs or ensure compliance is fruitless without the physicians’ buy-in.
  • The physician burnout is a symptom of the loss of enthusiasm for work, emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, sense of low personal accomplishment, feelings of cynicism, a decreased level of compassion and involvement with patients and staff.
  • The domino effect of the physician burnout can and does have a devastating effect on health care. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Real Sector Growth, health care has a -0.6% decline in productivity every year.
  • Physicians with a high level of burnout choose part-time practice, early retirement or leaving for other industries (pharma, insurance) as a way out. With the medical staff shortage on the one hand and the growing population on the other, providers can not afford to lose clinical talent.

Technology IS The Solution When Done Right

HIMSS17 saw a number of sessions featuring success stories of providers using innovative solutions to address the physician burnout and increase productivity.

Perfecting the Mobile Solution” demoed how Palmetto Health-USC addressed the issue of physician burnout (due to the clerical/EHR documentation overload) by adopting a mobile solution. Relying on a Windows 10 medical tablet with a digitizer stylus, the provider was able to not only improve physician productivity but also alleviate the physician burnout.

Benefits of a medical tablet, as reported by Palmetto executives:

  • Improved patient-doctor communication, eye to eye contact
  • Doctors review charts before going into the room → more dedicated visit and saved 2-3 minutes per visit
  • Faster note completion and triage, ability to take history from patient in the hallway effortlessly
  • Ability to document anywhere
  • Improved workday and productivity
  • Decreased patient wait times
  • Small technology footprint
  • No negative impact on workflow
  • Reduced login times, improved security
  • Reduced eye fatigue from looking at the tablet
  • Improved efficiency with dual screen mode
  • Easy to move with or without cart
  • Easy to share and clean the device

Benefits of a medical tablet, as reported by physicians:

  • Provider satisfaction – 71%
  • Device easy to use 83%
  • Reduced time spent after work documenting 64%
  • Faster documentation 46%
  • Improved access to health records 54%
  • Improved security of patient records with reduced need to print, secure network, fingerprint access
  • Improved patient communication and education at bedside 54%
  • Improved workflow and reduced login times 64%
  • Reduced transcription costs
  • Fewer desktops needed

The factors that contributed to the successful implementation of the mobile solution at Palmetto:

  • Larger screen, digitizer stylus, support for full-size mouse and keyboard
  • Extended battery life
  • Corporate shared device (not BYOD)
  • Dragon dictation support
  • EHR-ready
  • Ability to manage/support the devices on-site
  • User-friendly interface with manageable learning curve (Win 10)
  • Support for high-quality medical imaging and X-ray image printing
  • Fast and secure logins with biometric reader/RFID SSO/Smart Card or CAC

A similar experience was reported at the HIMSS17 “Mobile Innovation and Telehealth in Emergency Care” session featuring the outcomes of Emergency Telehealth and Navigation program (ETHAN). The medical tablets running ETHAN used by the ambulance teams help the Houston Fire Department reduce the overload of the very ambulance teams and increase their productivity by 44 minutes (from 83 in regular teams), and reduce the flow of low-acuity patients to the overcrowded ERs.

If the team’s assessment of a patient is that of a low acuity, they initiate a video conference with a remote physician. The latter makes an assessment and offers alternatives to an ambulance ride to the ER. We covered it in detail here.

Conclusion

An EHR-ready Windows medical tablet with RFID SSO, fingerprint, CAC/Smart Card and barcode reader, antimicrobial casing, hot-swap batteries, rugged case, carrying handle and strips does alleviate the physician burnout caused by technology because:

  • It is easy to use – familiar Windows interface, minimum learning curve. Security is made simple requiring minimum user effort.
  • It is safe – antimicrobial casing kills the pathogens, IP65 sealed bezels enable cleaning with liquid chemical solutions for ultimate disinfection.
  • It is reliable – with durable, military-grade battery or hot-swap batteries that let you swap them without powering off the device and losing data.

Another way to reduce the negative effect of technology on physician and nurse burnout is to use maneuverable and lightweight non-powered medical carts with ergonomic medical computers with hot-swap batteries, which provide the full-shift uptime and flexible charging options. This configuration eliminates the nurses’ strain of having to charge the cart or the laptop frequently. It also reduces the cost of IT because our hot-swap batteries are durable unlike those of your regular powered medical carts that need frequent replacements.

P.S. While the AMA and other professional organizations might get busy lobbying to reduce regulations regarding clerical work, the providers and HIT vendors must work towards interoperability and ease of use of their solutions. Check out our Key Takeaways from HIMSS17 here.

How to Succeed with Value-Based Care Using Health IT

Value-Based Reimbursements and The Times of Uncertainty

GOP leaders have recently unveiled their Affordable Care Act repeal-and-replace proposal that plans to give states more Medicaid control, cut federal Medicaid expansion and restructure how patients pay for their health insurance. The healthcare executives, on the other hand, are keen on keeping some ACA provisions intact, particularly the transition to the value-based reimbursement. So, most likely value-based care is not going anywhere even if some parts of the ACA get repealed and replaced eventually.

Whatever the outcome of the ACA repeal-and-replace is, there is one thing providers know for certain – it is not raining dollars. So doing more with less (and doing it better and faster) is a strategy for survival in the value-based care.

There are several key aspects providers can focus on to achieve positive outcomes in the value-based care – interoperability, medical automation, digitization, device convergence/integration/compatibility, and ease of use.

Interoperability

The industry has an urgent need to build interoperability into every HIT solution. HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (the FHIR standard) is being deployed by forward-thinking vendors and in in-house provider solutions.

Streamlining information exchange across platforms requires industry-wide implementation of a unified standard, and FHIR seems to have gained traction. When implementing, vendors and providers should keep in mind the resulting interfaces and data presentation should be simple.

The wealth of health data, when its fragments are consolidated from across different platforms, can be overwhelming to the detriment of the very purpose of interoperability, which is to give the physician a complete picture of the patient’s care history. Therefore, the focus on simplicity and consistency of presented data and usability of the interface is imperative for your interoperability strategy.

Medical Automation and Clinical Decision Support Tools

As is the case with industrial automation, medical automation frees up human time for the efficient patient care. Automating routine, tedious tasks within the medical field reduces human errors, cuts costs and increases the productivity of your staff.

The machine-level accuracy and reproducibility in patient monitoring, in laboratories, and pharmacies make tedious tasks of labeling, packaging, monitoring, scanning into fast, error-free routines with minimum human input. Medical automation increases positive outcomes, productivity and patient safety, decreases mortality rates and reduces costs.

An RFID-enabled medical tablet with an inbuilt barcode scanner, and equipped with medical decision support tools empowers a physician or nurse, freeing up more time to actual patient care, which is vital in value-based care. Such tool prevents drug dosage or dispensing errors, cuts down on the time-consuming research or cross-checking with different systems. Decision support programs accessible anytime, anywhere combined with the ability to scan RFID and barcodes automate the big part of the routine workflow.

It is important that all stakeholders understand medical automation is not replacing humans, but assisting them. For example, at a recent HIMSS conference, Houston Methodist Hospital held a session “Managing a Legacy Team in an EHR Transition.” Their strategy in helping the existing staff get up-to-date with the new HIT solutions is a benchmark for the industry; we suggest you read it. It consists of appointing trained team leaders to oversee the testing, deployment, troubleshooting and the transition to the new solution and keeping a close communication loop between all stakeholders. It helped the provider keep most of its medical talent, and prevent the existing staff from the otherwise inevitable anxiety of losing job to automation.

A critical point in equipping your medical staff with various automation tools is to prevent the user notification overload, which urges physicians to bypass or ignore notifications. It effectively nulls many positive outcomes of automated processes and decision support tools, so filtering and compartmentalizing notifications is a significant IT challenge for providers and vendors.

Digitization

Digitization and EHR adoption is moving forward in response to the transition to the value-based care and regulatory mandates. IT productivity paradox, however, suggests that the positive effect on physician productivity and the ROI for the providers will be tangible when all the imperfections are sorted out and users are accustomed to the digitized workflow. Technology does streamlined paperless workflows, but it takes time for the vendors to simplify the usability of their EHR systems, and embed interoperability. So that caregivers, providers, and payers can all enjoy a hassle-free data exchange.

Integration, Convergence, Compatibility

When integrating new HIT solutions into your existing infrastructure, ensure device convergence and compatibility with legacy systems. Consolidating multiple devices into one and ensuring its compatibility helps you address the cost, complexity and quality issues of the value-based care. So, screen your IT vendors and choose the solution that simplifies the integration of existing systems with the new IT solutions, so that your infrastructure is optimized and future-proofed for reliable performance in the value-based care model.

Device convergence or consolidation means you are deploying one device to replace multiple devices or tools. For example, one medical tablet replaces a desktop computer, a smartphone, pen-and-paper kit, barcode scanner, pager, TV/smart blinds/bed remote control, and patient infotainment terminals. It consolidates a wealth of applications such as EHR, clinical decision support, vitals monitoring, intranet communications, nurse call button and more.

Convergence approach also addresses an important productivity roadblock – tech fatigue. With BYOD and legacy systems, a physician is equipped with a handful of devices generating dozens of notifications daily. Desktop PC, a BYOD smartphone, a medical cart laptop, information kiosk in the hallway or at patient bedside – nurses and physicians are overburdened with technology.

Additionally, having multiple computing devices in daily use chips away from your staff’s working time as nurses and doctors need to conduct daily maintenance routines. Disinfection, battery recharge, or data loss due to power outage – how often do your nurses charge their powered cart computers or laptops? How many patients does a nurse or physician contact per day, and how many hands are working with your medical computers? Are there disinfecting procedures in place for your computers and BYOD devices? Most importantly, can they withstand disinfection? Hospital-acquired infections do not help you increase patient satisfaction and succeed in value-based care.

Therefore, deploying IT solutions that guarantee full-shift uptime and address all these issues in a single, HIPAA compliant, EHR-enabled, antimicrobial build with a user-friendly, familiar Windows interface saves your resources and eliminates IT fatigue.

Innovation – Follow The Lead

By 2020, the healthcare sector will have generated 25,000 petabytes of digital medical data. So, expanding on-premise data storage is no longer feasible as cloud solutions provide cost, accessibility and efficiency advantages. 77% of health care organizations plan to rely on SaaS cloud storage providers to maintain a high infrastructure reliability.

The mobile telehealth pilots featured by some providers at HIMSS17 show the future of the value-based care is in the ubiquitous mobile technology. For example, Houston Fire Department decreases the flow of low-acuity 911 patients to EDs by providing such patients with a live video conference with a remote physician through the medical tablets used by emergency units. With the physician’s expert opinion and alternatives well-explained, the patient is more likely to choose a scheduled clinic appointment, or a taxi ride to the ED, instead of the most expensive (from the provider’s perspective) ambulance ride to the ED. Read our Key Takeaways from HIMSS17 here.

Likewise, Palmetto Health successfully implemented EHR and made the transition to digitization by deploying Windows 10 medical tablets with digitizer stylus. The key features that facilitated the implementation are familiar user interface, excellent performance, and compatibility with other medical equipment, large screen, and Dragon dictation support.

Conclusion

There is no one-size-fits-all HIT solution for all providers. So, knowing exactly which features of a health IT solution contribute to your value-based care system makes it easier to forge and implement a successful strategy and maintain a competitive edge. Choosing the right IT partner that understands your needs is a prerequisite for success when advancing with your value-based care.

Medical Tablets: Complying with HIPAA

Healthcare providers increasingly use clinical applications such as EHR, clinical decision support systems, order entry systems, radiology, laboratory and other systems. Health IT makes the medical workforce more agile, mobile and productive. Mobile devices let physicians check patient records on the go, in any location. Nonetheless, the rise of mobile technology increases the risk of data breaches. HIPAA aims to protect ePHI while still allowing hospitals to adopt new technologies & improve their efficiency and care quality.

The Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA), 1996, consists of HIPAA Privacy Rule & the HIPAA Security Rule. The former establishes national standards for the protection of individually identifiable health information; the latter – security standards for protecting individually identifiable health information held or transferred in electronic form. The Security Rule dwells on the technical and non-technical safeguards covered entities must implement to secure patients’ electronic protected health information (e-PHI).

Understanding HIPAA

The HIPAA Security Rule covers health plans, health care clearinghouses and health care providers that create, receive, store or transmit e-PHI, as well as their business associates. Read the Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule [PDF].

Under HIPAA, covered entities must:

  • Ensure confidentiality, integrity & availability of e-PHI.
  • Identify threats to e-PHI and protect against them.
  • Protect e-PHI against disclosures or impermissible uses.
  • Ensure HIPAA compliance by the workforce.

The HIPAA Security Rule requires covered entities to perform a risk assessment to determine reasonable security measures for a particular organization. Risk assessment includes evaluation of the likelihood of a data breach, implementation of appropriate security measures, documentation of security measures, & rationalization of their choice, and continuous protection of e-PHI.

Safeguards

On the administrative, physical and technical levels, HIPAA requires for the organizations to implement certain safeguards.

Administrative

  • Security management process – identify & analyze risks to e-PHI, implement security measures for protection.
  • Appointing a security official overseeing HIPAA compliance.
  • Information access management – limit uses and disclosures of e-PHI, granting access to data only when appropriate, to authorized personnel only.
  • Providing the medical staff with data protection training, ensuring policy compliance by the workforce.

Physical

  • Limit physical access to the facility for unauthorized individuals, yet ensure authorized access is allowed.
  • Implement device security procedures, specify proper use of devices and access to them, have policies regarding device transfer, disposal or re-use.

Technical

Health care providers must implement:

  • Access control to e-PHI for authorized personnel only.
  • Audit controls of hardware, software and data access and use procedures.
  • Integrity controls to ensure e-PHI is not destroyed or altered improperly.
  • Transmission security measures that guard against unauthorized access to e-PHI in transit.

Features of Medical Tablets That Ensure HIPAA Compliance

So, when we talk about the features of the medical tablets that ensure HIPAA compliance, we are primarily concerned with the Technical Safeguards of the HIPAA Security Rule provisions.

Encryption

The HIPAA Security Series Guidelines require covered entities to “consider the use of encryption” for e-PHI in transit. Encryption for data at rest is not mandatory, but its implementation depends on the risk assessment.

End to end encryption ensures the data in transit is protected against data breaches and man-in-the-middle attacks, according to HIPAA Journal. Technology based on the end to end encryption helps providers avoid HIPAA violations.

HIPAA-compliant medical tablets are Windows or Linux-based, which enables the support of full disk encryption for data at rest, & implementation of end to end encryption programs for data in transit. Furthermore, Windows medical tablets have USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports and can encrypt data on external storage devices just like your normal desktop computers would.

One of the glaring security holes in consumer grade mobile devices is text messaging and consumer chat apps medical staff use to communicate with patients and colleagues. e-PHI details sent in a text message is a direct violation of HIPAA Security Rule. Skype, WhatsApp or Hangouts lack necessary protections for a secure data transfer, despite claims of encryption. Medical professionals must implement secure communication programs, with the end to end encryption and preferably from trusted, zero-knowledge providers.

Data Access

HIPAA requires the implementation of technical policies and procedures that allow access to PHI to authorized staff only. Medical tablets have access control mechanisms that enable advanced user authentication. Moreover, they make it easy to use, because end users tend to bypass any technical procedures they deem as difficult, time-consuming, or hampering their productivity in any other way.

Multi-factor authentication in medical tablets is ensured with RFID Imprivata Single Sign-On, biometric scanner, Smart Card or CAC reader, and Kensington lock. Multi-layered access controls reduce the risk of unauthorized data access. Medical staff can safely leave the device in hospital’s public places, such as corridors or patient rooms, and rest assured the confidential data is locked.

Data Integrity

According to HIPAA, any e-PHI data stored on a mobile device (or transmitted with its help) must be protected against unlawful tampering or destruction. Mobile devices used to store or transmit e-PHI in healthcare must have features that allow them to be audited for access to e-PHI, including attempted access instances, and other activity that could potentially affect data security.

Medical tablets can be configured to enable remote device management to give the IT admins full control over the data stored and transmitted from it. IT admins can push system and software updates and patches remotely, or troubleshoot issues without having physical access to the device. They can set up the device so that the complete log of data access and failed login attempts be documented for revision. They can wipe the device remotely, should it be lost or stolen. They can monitor network activity and spot suspiciously large volumes in upload or download to, again, suspicious servers.

IT admins can block or disable certain OS features, whitelist and blacklist programs, to protect the confidentiality of e-PHI from the inadvertent exposure by the end users. For example, disabling automatic connection to any available Wi-Fi network protects devices from connecting to insecure public networks.

From ad-block browser extensions to firewalls and sandboxing, Windows supports the full list of security measures an IT admin can deploy on a device. With Windows 10, the security features have advanced even further.

Windows makes the use of password managers easy since most enterprise programs are developed for Win OS. Also, administrators can disable access to app store, so that users cannot download and install unauthorized applications, or games. Alternatively, blacklist every app but a list of authorized applications from accessing the Internet.

Medical tablets ensure admins have necessary means of scanning them for malware and other malicious code, install antivirus, perform regular and random scans. When an employee is left or fired, admins can safely terminate access to PHI.