Tag Archives: medical tablets

Top Hospitals

What Makes a Top Hospital?

The truth is, there is no perfectly objective method to determine the “best hospital.”

But, there’s no denying that the highest ranked hospitals have a few qualities in common: innovation, patient care, and communication above everything else.

But how do they do it? How can we apply those lessons to hospitals around the world?

Embracing Innovation

Unsurprisingly, innovation and a willingness to adopt new technology rank high on the list.

It isn’t always about money, either. It’s about the hospitals that aren’t afraid to shake up existing processes, to educate the staff and deploy new tools to the best possible use.

Adopting Agile Hardware

Health professionals and clinicians everywhere are on their feet for days at a time, racing from room to room. As computer systems and EHR invade every inch of medical life, there simply isn’t always time to sit at a desktop computer.

Some hospitals have embraced mobile technology like medical tablets. Modern medical tablets are small, portable, and some come with hot-swappable batteries — meaning they can be in constant operation without having to sit and charge for a portion of the day. They also can be equipped with built-in barcode, RFID, and smart card scanners, removing a lot of the peripherals clogging up computer carts.

Blockchain

One of the keys of innovation is vision — as hockey legend Wayne Gretzky put it, “don’t look where the puck is. Look where the puck is going.” When it comes to data protection sharing, the proverbial puck is heading toward distributed ledgers like blockchain.

In short, blockchain democratizes information, protecting it by sharing an encrypted version of a particular file or database across hundreds or thousands of other computers on the chain. For healthcare applications, the security and accountability of blockchain make it difficult for hackers to penetrate, or for unintentional leaks to occur.

Blockchain also has fantastic applicability in drug tracking, which is required by law after the “Drug Supply Chain Security” act of 2013. And since every transaction in the shared database is constantly checked against the same copy stored on multiple servers, illegally altering the drug inventory for nefarious purposes is basically impossible.   

Interoperability

Hospitals and healthcare are heavily burdened by the twin chains of high stakes and the ensuing regulation that comes with such an important responsibility.

But, like all complex endeavors, communication is key. And not just communication between management and staff, or staff and patients — though that’s important too — but also among the hardware and software that has become ubiquitous in medical practices.

EHR Software Blues

EHR systems don’t always play nice with others, with many software companies making it actively difficult to communicate with competitor software. This is why top hospitals, and those striving to avoid these pitfalls, embrace emergent technology.

The way forward isn’t exactly clear: even Trinity Health reported a 100 million dollar fee for switching to a more unified EHR system. However, more popular EHR systems like Epic — and the medical computers with built-in Epic compatibility — have a wider reach and more options for inter-hospital communication.

Improved Patient Outcomes

Top hospitals all have one thing in common, and it’s both the most important and least-surprising component: patient quality of care, patient satisfaction, and patient outcomes.

It’s unhelpful to say “the best hospitals are the ones that have the healthiest patients.” It’s more important to dive into why these patients go home happier and healthier.

Never Too Much Information

Top hospitals do keep a weather eye on feedback and metrics.

If patient outcomes take a dip, smart administrators will research all of the changes to the hospital up to a few months before the drop. A strong system of data — perhaps stored on the blockchain mentioned earlier and accessible by any connected medical PC — can allow admin to cross-check contributing factors like management changes, new hires, equipment installation / loss, season, new epidemics, and even economic or political changes in the area.

As Sherlock Holmes would say: “Data, data, data.” You can’t make bricks without clay.

Ask the Patients

Patient care and patient outcomes go hand-in-hand, which is why user surveys are so important to top-level hospitals.

There are three great times for administering patient satisfaction surveys: when they are discharged, on the patient portal afterward, and in-room during care. While discharge and portal surveys are best left in written or digital form, a quick in-person check can provide emotional context clues.

Some hospitals have a staff manager make a quick round with every patient, asking them something simple like “how was the food?”, “were your medications explained well?” and/or “were your needs met in a timely manner?” Consider including one of your common pain points in the survey. If your hospital has been receiving negative feedback about patients feeling like they aren’t being given options, ask the current patient if they feel that way.

This in-person survey answers can either be jotted down on a clipboard by the staff member, or inputted into a medical tablet or nearby medical computer.

Patient Engagement

Studies have shown that an engaged patient is an attentive patient, one who takes responsibility for their own healthcare.

They participate as a member of the medical team, especially when given the education and support by the hospital or healthcare provider.

Improving Patient Portals

Top hospitals and healthcare providers have online patient portals, a place for patients to make and manage appointments (at a minimum). However, top facilities push even further, creating a one-stop-shop for patient education and communication.

The best portals allow patients to pursue educational videos and programs based on their conditions — if a patient is undergoing a vasectomy, for instance, a flag in the system sends the appropriate videos, statistics, and study materials to the patient’s inbox.

Consider offering voluntary quizzes or “refreshers” where the patient can demonstrate and cement their knowledge of their condition or upcoming procedure.

The Human Touch

Engagement in person is just as important.

Clinicians need to be trained to present diagnoses and treatment options in layman’s terms, verifying every step of the way that the patient is synthesizing the information and not just nodding and smiling. Ask them what they know about their condition already, and use this opportunity to (gently) correct them if they are under false impressions.

If there are any available, accessible education videos or visual aids you could show the patient on something like a medical LCD monitor, that will only help them retain information.

In performing these “educational checks,” the top hospitals in the United States (and the world) help patients make the most of their treatment, and reduce the kind of misconceptions and errors that end up putting patients right back in the hospital.

Community Importance / Engagement

While medical care will always be of primary importance, top hospitals have expanded beyond the patient’s room and out into the community.

Food insecurity has a devastating effect on patient success and long-term health, both physically and mentally. The higher-ranking hospitals usually have some kind of food bank or pantry program to help feed underprivileged members of the community. It isn’t just about charity — though that is a noble goal — it’s a natural extension of a hospital’s function. Malnutrition — especially at a young age — can lead to a host of health problems later in life.

Hospitals that provide safe playgrounds, libraries, or indoor play-spaces for community children are most effective in low-income or high-crime areas. A study by the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University found that crime increased markedly around parks, with some areas displaying crime statistics twice as high in the park as in surrounding environs.

And since children are the most common users of park playgrounds, well-meaning attempts to have fun and get some exercise could end up exposing the most at-risk children to unhealthy experiences. Safe and supervised hospital playground spaces mitigate that damage, providing a safe space for neighborhood children to play and thrive.

Reaching and engaging the community can provide a kind of pre-emptive healthcare, giving those in need the tools and education necessary to live a long and healthy life.

Common Factors

When it comes to examining why top hospitals are so effective and laudable, it’s a smart idea to also take a look at possible contributing factors.

While the following factors may not necessarily land on this side of the causation/correlation loop, the stats don’t lie, and these factors do seem disproportionately common in higher-scoring hospitals.

The Power of Teaching Hospitals

While many might shy away from getting their haircut at a barber college, it turns out that healthcare at a teaching hospital tends to rank higher.

They even have lower mortality rates: a study posted on PubMed found that “private teaching hospitals had a significantly lower adjusted mortality rate than private nonteaching hospitals,” with an 8-point increase in survival rates for the teaching hospitals.

Some believe that since both the teachers and students are on their best behavior, and are under such stringent regulations and supervision that their care may be similarly elevated.

More experimental or rare medical procedures are often only available at teaching hospitals, allowing student doctors to experience a wide variety of solutions like bone marrow transplants and other specialized surgeries. This could explain some of the higher patient outcomes coming out of a teaching hospital — many patients who need difficult procedures end up receiving them at these educational hospitals.  

Size Doesn’t Matter

Large hospitals may have the benefit of resources, but they don’t always score higher based off size alone.

In the 2016 “100 Great Hospitals in America” listing by Becker Hospital Review, only 15% of their top-level hospitals had over 1,000 beds. And while every other hospital on the list wasn’t necessarily a three-bed hospice, it does show that “biggest guns” may not be as important to patient outcome as one would believe at first blush.

A Pinch of Salt

Remember to take hospital ratings with a healthy dose of skepticism — hospitals are simply too complicated to be easily graded. And, doing well on reviews might mean that the hospital is just good at the paperwork required by reviewing bodies.

However, the basic tenets of patient care, innovation, and communication will always hold out over the ratings on a medical blog.

To learn more about integrating the latest medical computers and how they can streamline processes in a hospital, contact Cybernet today.

Medical Computers help Digital Dentistry

Surviving the Transition to Digital Dentistry

Transitioning from a standard dental office to a fully digital practice causes many dentists to balk.

The initial cost is high, the learning curve can feel extreme, and the constantly-mutating nature of technological progress can make some clinicians wonder if what’s here today is going to be gone tomorrow.

So, is the transition necessary? And if it is, how can dental practices of any size find a way forward through a potentially expensive and frustrating experience?

Do I Need It?

It’s the question every reluctant adopter has: “Do I really need all of this stuff?”

We’re going to have to put it simply: yes. Yes, you do. When it comes to EHR systems and HIPAA, it’s literally the law, with mandatory compliance measures popping up all over the place in 2019. The biometric, RFID, and smart card integration of modern medical computers provide a simple platform for patient records and HIPAA compliance.

Secondly, most modern dental techniques already require a digital platform — any future techniques are only going to require more technology. In essence, it becomes a game of “now or later.” Digitizing the dental office is inevitable, and the sooner the practice embraces it, the faster they can enjoy the many benefits.

CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and manufacturing) techniques are everywhere in modern dentistry and are far more accurate, generally less costly in the long run, and can create implants that might have otherwise been impossible or very difficult to manufacture.

Intra-oral scanners are also providing unprecedented intel for dentists, gleaning information that a stick and a mirror simply can’t replicate.

Going digital isn’t just about future-proofing your business and streamlining your workflow — it’s also about caring for patients with the best tools at hand.

Climbing the Learning Curve

Keeping up with dental knowledge and techniques is already a job of work for most clinicians — the idea of also having to learn new computer systems can feel daunting.

Many dentists report that the fear of the learning curve prevents many from taking the full leap into digital dentistry. However, there are a number of easy training resources, support options, and even purchase choices that end up creating a far more shallow learning curve.

Ask for Help

The first option, of course, is to connect with a more tech-savvy member of the staff. Dental assistants often tend to be younger than the dentist they work with, and while no guarantee, are more likely to have high tech confidence. Any dental technicians in the practice are well-versed in technology by definition, and can also be of huge help fielding questions and basic troubleshooting. Lean on them for aid.

Another option is to contact friendly associates in the dental business who have already made the leap to a fully digital office. Tell them your concerns and ask them what their strategies were for tackling them.

Choose Touchscreen Computers

When it comes to the computers you’ll need to purchase to make the transition, consider making your job simpler by employing touchscreen devices. Touchscreens are naturally more intuitive, skipping control schemes and allowing the user to simply touch exactly what they need to control or alter.

Medical touch screen computers are an even better option — they’re often made with antimicrobial casings, reducing the normal payload of bacteria that tends to collect on such devices.

They’re usually easier to clean, too, with a sealed front bezel that allows full sterilization from spray cleaners and wipes.

What About Computer Crashes?

Paper records don’t crash or lag, and plaster molds don’t suffer from hard drive failures. We come now to the most famous worry of would-be digitizers everywhere: that a slow or unstable computer is going to slow down workflow or outright lose vital records.

Yes, technology is imperfect — but so is everything else. Sometimes computers crash. They’re made of silicon, which is basically just pressed, hot sand. However, the benefits of a faster, more efficient workflow almost always makes up for the occasional glitch — that is, if you choose the right equipment.

Choose Better Equipment

The kinds of computers needed to run and render 3D scans of patient’s mouths are already pretty beefy, but long-term durability may be just as important as their processor specs.

Fanless medical PCs with a 3-5 year life cycle provide a higher ROI. Not only do they last longer, and require less training (because they don’t change out as often), but their sealed bezels and fanless design greatly reduce the number of crashes, downtime incidents, and failures normally associated with off-the-shelf consumer computers.

One high-quality medical computer is going to outlast a consumer model three times over and provide a better, faster experience during that same lifespan.

Back It Up

Data loss can be frightening — it can also be avoided. In the modern world of cloud storage and on-site backups, there’s simply no reason why a crash should jeopardize patient files and CAD/CAM work.

Cloud services like Dropbox and Carbonite — just to name a few — offer encrypted, HIPAA-approved data storage that can be scaled anywhere from a few terminals and user profiles to an entire healthcare group. The files in question, be they patient records or CAD work files, are stored both locally on the computer and in the cloud, providing double the protection.

The practice could (Heaven-forbid) burn to the ground with every computer reduced to a smoking ruin, and all files would be completely safe. Ditto for if a computer or medical tablet is stolen — you’ll still have access to the files, but the encryption will prevent outside actors from making use of it.

If you’re a “belt and suspenders” type of person, consider also getting an external hard drive or backup server on the premises, and use software to schedule regular backups as well.

Most cloud services also make file-sharing easier for authorized users, meaning dental employees will have a much easier time of sending CAD files, patient records, or any other information to other members of the practice without a hitch.

The Price of Admission

At the end of the day, let’s be realistic: cost is always going to be one of the strongest factors in digital adoption. And there are no two ways about it: computers, software, milling machines, 3D printers, and micro-imaging cameras don’t come cheap.

But, it’s not like dental drills and X-ray machines — both ubiquitous in dental offices — came from the dollar store. Medical equipment is expensive, but there are ways to mitigate some of the damage.

The primary method of saving cash in the long run is to take a good, long look down the road. As we said, and as you know, computers eventually break down. Cars break down, buildings break down, it’s just a fact of life. But, to maintain the car analogy, a $1500 car bought from the neighbor is going to break down a lot faster than a brand new Honda.

Consider digitizing your dental office with high-quality medical all-in-one computers and medical tablets, heavy duty mills for implants, time-tested and well-reviewed 3D printers, and any other recommended gear from fellow dental associates and dental communities.

Consider the price as an investment, not only in your self and in your practice, but in your patients as well.

A Quick Transition is Better

Like removing the proverbial Band-Aid, some hard transitions should be done all at once.

Trying to finagle compatibility issues between new and legacy devices can be frustrating and fruitless. Consider this when purchasing new IT hardware and look for medical computers that have legacy ports that are compatible with your older devices. This will help save money on your initial investment and will provide better ROI down the road.

Whatever your digital dental transition needs, reach out to Cybernet for quotes on medical computers that can be customized to the specifications of your dental practice.

Medical Asset Tracking: How to Get Started

An explosion of new medical inventions is great news in all but one respect: asset management.

A wealth of cutting-edge devices helps patients and staff, but it also means keeping track of a flood of new gear. Unfortunately, storage space and logistical systems don’t always get the same level of attention as the shiny new technology coming into the hospital.

So, how does a modern hospital manage this glut of new devices?

How can hospitals use medical computers to implement the same kind of asset tracking that has served warehouses and industry so well?

Locating Equipment

The first two questions asked by any asset management project are “What do we have?” and “Where is it?”

The asset tracking chain has to begin when the machine, tool, or supply item arrives. As soon as it comes off the truck, a barcode or RFID tag should be applied, defined, and scanned into the system. This should include the initial install location of the item, cost, expected life cycle, and any other relevant information.

Once this information has been entered into the system, it’s just a matter of education and policy to make sure hospital staff are scanning equipment when it gets moved to a new location. Almost every room has a computer on wheels or medical tablet nearby, which can then use built-in barcode and/or RFID scanners to keep every piece of gear cataloged and ready.

Reduce the Time Spent Hunting for Medical Gear

According to a survey of over 1,000 nurses, a third of nurses spend 1 hour each shift just trying to find commonly-used equipment. 16% said they experienced incidents where they eventually just gave up looking and did without the equipment in question. The survey also found that mattresses, pumps, thermometers, keys, and IV stands were the equipment that tended to disappear the most.

A central asset management database tied to scanner-equipped medical tablets and computer carts would allow staff to look up the gear they need. The database could even be configured to display a map of that particular room or floor, guiding the nurse or doctor right to the location of the wayward instrument.

Fighting Theft

According to a report by ADT Healthcare, an estimated 52 million dollars in medical supplies and equipment are stolen by patients every year.

ADT found that most patient theft happens, not surprisingly, right in the patient’s room. Items like scrubs, linens, pillows, and phones are the most common targets, but patients have stolen otoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and desk chargers. Even wall clocks have found their way into patient backpacks and purses, if you can believe it.

With expensive or bulky items tagged with RFID, and less expensive items printed with barcodes, tracking theft becomes much simpler. With each item tagged to each room, and each patient scanned into the same room, it’s not difficult to match the missing item with the potential pilfering patient.

It’s essentially a system not unlike the mini-bar at a hotel. The hotel knows who’s in the room, and they know what’s in the fridge, and when it disappears they know just where to send the bill. And while charging patients for missing items may not be as simple, it’s at least a great place to begin the investigation.

As for staff theft, staff smart cards or individual RFID fobs can mitigate much of the issue. When every storage closet and bin is locked by RFID — and also set up to record whoever uses it and when — accountability deters the worst of the thefts.

ADT found that even something as simple as a scrub vending machine tied to smartcards lowered theft of scrubs by a significant amount. Now imagine the far greater consequences of being caught stealing expensive, easily-traced medical equipment or illegal drugs.

Knowing the Life-Cycle of Medical Machines

Asset tracking isn’t just for fighting shrink and theft. It’s also about knowing what condition your equipment is in, how old it is, and the last time it received cleaning or maintenance.

It’s a simple concept: maintenance techs who diagnose, repair, replace, or clean a vital device like an advanced diagnostic imaging PC or a Da Vinci robotic surgery machine could scan the RFID tag or barcode, and enter it into the maintenance tracking system. Then, all repairs, replacements, and cleaning cycles can be recorded and time-stamped.

From there, an automated system could let administrators, techs, and regular equipment operators know when it’s coming time for another cleaning or maintenance check-up. This saves time, increases general productivity, reduces equipment downtime, and ultimately expands the usable life cycle of all devices.

Improving Sterilization Tracking

Infection is one of the greatest dangers in medicine. Sepsis affects 30 million people in the world per year, according to the World Health Organization. Infection is also potentially responsible for the deaths of 6 million of those affected.

From operating rooms to laboratories to dentist offices, thoroughly sterilized medical equipment represents the front line of the war against infection.

While current healthcare sterilization methods are fairly advanced in most developed countries, there’s always room for improvement and error-checking when humans are involved in any process. The Center for Disease Control has strict guidelines on what surfaces need to be sterilized, how often and with what acceptable method.

Asset Tags for Medical Equipment

All medical instruments and machines can be tagged with RFID tags, sticker barcodes, or even permanent barcodes that can be etched or stamped into smaller instruments (like scalpels). When these instruments are being cleaned, the staff member can scan the tag with a handheld scanner, medical tablet, or nearby medical computer with a built-in RFID or barcode scanner.

This not only updates the location of the equipment, but it can also provide a “last cleaned” date stamp on the spreadsheet or database. These can either be reviewed manually to create a cleaning schedule, or set up to notify relevant personnel when an item has passed it’s “clean-by” date.

Chain of Responsibility

This also creates a system of accountability — when an instrument wasn’t properly cleaned, it can be traced back to its origin. In 2015, surgeons at a Detroit children’s hospital had to halt an open-heart operation on a 7-month-old because they found a previous patient’s blood still clogged in the tube of a bypass machine.

Sterilization tracking would not only make it possible to locate the person or machine responsible for the mistake, but such granular accountability would make future staff members more vigilant about cleaning instruments.

Tracking Instruments Used on Patients

In keeping with the “chain of responsibility” concept, RFID and barcode asset tracking techniques can also be used to keep a full, secure log of every piece of medical equipment used on any particular patient.

Scanning a patient’s wristband is standard procedure in most hospitals these days. The clinician could then scan the medical device about to be used on the patient, or even any medical device that enters the patient’s room for a higher-level perspective.

At the end of treatment, the patient’s entire journey through the hospital would be recorded, including each blood pressure cuff, digital thermometer, heart monitor, or MRI machine that came in contact with the patient.

This kind of tracking granularity is not only important for accurate medical records, but it can actually be used to help prevent mishaps. It’s difficult for a sponge or other piece of medical equipment to get left inside of a patient when a nurse or doctor scans every bit of gear before and after surgery to account for it.

Securing Pharmaceuticals with RFID Tags

The “Drug Supply Chain Security Act,” introduced in 2013, mandates that medical facilities use a comprehensive drug-tracking system to prevent fraud. The opioid epidemic is a real concern, causing 115 deaths per day, a large portion of which could be prevented by better drug-tracking systems.

Barcodes are already a vital component in drug tracking systems, which is why having a medical computer or tablet with an integrated barcode scanner can be such a boon for asset tracking.

Storage of commonly-used drugs could be keyed to staff RFID tags, which are waved at a door sensor. The storage unit then unlocks (based on the user’s credentials), and records who accessed the drugs and when they did it.

This isn’t just for theft mitigation. These features also help with inventory, depending on how granular you get with ID tags, warning purchasers when it may be time to order more medication.

Secure Equipment Helps Patients, Doctors, and the Bottom Line

The financial benefits of asset tracking for medical devices simply can’t be overstated. Save on shrink, theft, poor maintenance, sterilization snafus, and lost productivity with an air-tight tracking system.

Contact Cybernet to learn more about how to implement medical computers and medical tablets to protect hospital supplies and long-term assets.

Operating Room

How to Improve Patient Safety in the Operating Room

“First do no harm” is a guiding principle for many doctors and clinicians, and its meaning holds extra weight in an operating room.

Almost everything in an operating room could be harmful, from the surgical implements to the power running through the heart monitor to the germs in the very air. That being the case, how can medical computer technology, robust asset tracking, and even robotic-assisted surgery work harder to safeguard patients?

What are the most common dangers in the operating room, and how can they be controlled and contained?

Fighting Sepsis in the Operating Room

Sepsis — or, the condition of extreme infection — is a common enemy in the hospital, affecting more than a million patients in the United States alone. A third of those inflicted don’t survive.

Luckily, modern medical technology is both decreasing the chances of infection, and improving the outlook of those who suffer from it. Techniques like ultra-violet radiation exposure, employed during the procedure itself to lower surgical-site bacteria, have been around for decades.

However, there are more recent methods that can reinforce the sterile field of the operating room.

What are the benefits of a sealed medical computer?

Medical computers and medical LCD monitors equipped with antimicrobial housing can reduce the surface level of bacteria-friendly growth areas in the OR. The antimicrobial housing on these units also complements the dust-tight and splash-resistant front bezel.

With an IP65 rating for particle and liquid breach, medical monitors and computers in an operating room can be thoroughly sterilized by spraying them and rubbing them down with many of the same chemicals already being employed by the sanitation staff.

A newer innovation, fanless design, means that the medical monitor or medical computer can stay cool without the use of a fan. Fan’s are traditionally a huge weak point in any computer system. They move air through the machine, which — in an operating room — can create a pocket of infection that is then sprayed all around the area. Which is why a computer or monitor without a fan is so helpful to surgeons and anesthesiologists inside the OR.

This impenetrable design also means that bacteria, infected liquids, and dust-born pathogens can’t enter and fester inside of the dark, warm environment typical of most computers.

These modern medical computer construction methods eliminate one more infection vector inside the operating room.

How Does Robot-Assisted Surgery Help Patients?

Robot-assisted surgery allows surgeons to operate in tiny spaces, but with all the dexterity (or more) of their normal process.

How it works: One to four tiny cuts are made, depending on the surgery, into which the thin robotic arms are inserted. These arms are equipped with various tools, custom-equipped for the procedure at hand — and, of course, micro-cameras and lights. The surgeon then controls the limbs from a nearby console, which allows them to perform the surgery and even magnify the picture to an extent unmatched by human eyes.

The other bonus to robot-assisted surgery is — because the surgery cuts are so small — they heal faster, are less likely to get infected, and cause far less pain to the patient in the long run.

And while robot-assisted surgery has been around for a little bit, recent advances may allow surgeons to use the process to operate on areas that used to be far too cramped and complex: the spine, and the brain.

One of the newer robotic surgery assistants is the digital microscope, exemplified by the Modus V made by Synaptive Medical Inc. Positioned above the patient during surgery, robotic digital microscopes can provide the surgical team with unprecedented access to even the smallest components of the body’s complex nervous system.

Robot-assisted surgery ensures that no big problem is too small, and that the patient’s surgery and recovery is priority #1 for the hospital who leverages it.                                                                                                 

The Dangers of Long-Distance Anesthesia

A recent study found that not only are anesthesiologists performing more of their in-surgery duties from outside of the operating room, but that this trend may be having proven consequences to patient health. Malpractice claims for death involving anesthesiologists who were in another room increased by over 20%, as did respiratory damage and inadequate oxygenation events.

The study went on to conclude that these remote location events could have been prevented by better (and closer) monitoring.

The primary reason for an anesthesiologist being outside of the operating theatre is his or her computer. A standard computer or laptop uses fans to cool the CPU and motherboard, to keep everything running at the right operating temperature. As we learned earlier, fans in an operating room are a huge liability, spreading infected air and debris all around the room.

A fanless medical computer allows an anesthesiologist to stay in the room, increasing patient safety, improving their own organization and efficiency, and keeping the surgery team all together in the same space.

How Does Asset Tracking Make the Operating Room Safer?

It’s a sad fact that the average warehouse has a more robust asset-tracking system than any hospital or operating theater.

Asset tracking isn’t about inventory, necessarily — it’s about knowing where every important instrument and tool is located, what condition it’s in, and whether or not it’s ready for use.

Tracking Surgical Instruments

A scalpel or clamp or other surgical instruments could be stamped with a barcode. This barcode is then scanned by a medical tablet, which tracks its progress through both the hospital and its own life and use cycle.

If all instruments are scanned after being sterilized, and then scanned after being double checked, and then scanned when they leave a storage area and head to the OR, it reduces errors in the supply chain and increases accountability.

When a nurse in the operating room opens a fresh tray of instruments and scans their barcodes, they’ll have access to the full picture of that instrument. They can confirm it’s been properly sterilized and even sent to the right operating room for the correct operation.

Digital Asset Tracking for Blood Transfusions

Barcodes and RFID tags are already in use to track blood units and eliminate potential errors.

Blood for transfusion is as common in an OR as scrubs, which is why it’s so important that proper, modern asset tracking and inventory practices apply. A patient receiving the wrong blood type during surgery can even be fatal — the body’s immune system attempts to “fight” the new blood, which can lead to catastrophic health issues.

A tracking system for blood units, one paired with the wristband of the patient, does an excellent job of minimizing the chance of the kind of small snafus that can turn into huge problems.

Risk is Our Business

Surgery will always carry an element of risk, and no OR will ever be completely free of danger. However, embracing modern medical computers and the latest safety techniques can increase patient safety and improve the conditions of the operating room for the staff as well.
Reach out to Cybernet to learn more about how modern medical computers, monitors, and tablets can increase workflow and reduce the chance of infection.

BYOD Healthcare Policy

Are BYOD Policies in Healthcare a Mistake?

“BYOD” stands for “Bring Your Own Device,” and its potential implementation is a conversation being had in many workplaces, schools, industries, and hospitals.

In theory, it’s an effective cost-cutting measure: everyone is walking around with an advanced, mobile touchscreen computer in their pocket at all times. Why not leverage that ubiquitous technology, all the while saving the business some money on buying medical tablets for every employee?

While BYOD policies sound great on paper, are they actually effective? Do they do more harm than good?

Personal Devices Are a Hornet’s Nest of HIPAA Violations

The greatest flaw in any BYOD policy is almost always security — how do you ensure that the phone a staff member carries at home, at work, and out to the club is protected? How can you guarantee that the employee is always logging out of work applications, especially if they take work home with them as part of their job? Lines become even blurrier, and confidentiality suffers.

Imagine a doctor or nurse snaps a quick picture of an injury on their cell phone for later reference or sends it to another clinician for a second opinion. Even if the patient consented to this, is the text message software secure? Is the receiving phone or device secure? What happens if either is hacked or stolen?

Are all pictures snapped by the phone automatically backed up to the cloud? Some users may not realize this happens automatically, depending on the phone’s settings. Is the staff member’s Dropbox or iCloud shared with anyone else? How encrypted is it? What other, non-secure device is the cloud service backing up to? A home computer, a bedside iPad, a husband or wife’s laptop?

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to images. Ask yourself all of these questions regarding a text or email about a patient’s condition or personal details to another clinician. Think about what note-taking software is being used on the phone, and where that’s stored. Some staff members may record their thoughts or case reports into a phone recorder app, which may be backed up to the cloud or other, less secure devices.

Does the user even have a password on their phone or tablet? According to the “Consumer Security Risks Survey” from Kaspersky Labs, only half (53%) of mobile users have a security solution installed on their smartphones. And 20% weren’t even aware that mobile malware existed.

Each one of these avenues is a potential HIPAA violation, which can cause an individual or a branch thousands of dollars in fines and potentially more in active lawsuits.

Consider the Liability

Mobile devices get stolen or misplaced all of the time. Unlike dedicated hospital medical tablets,  a staff member’s personal cell phone or tablet is going home (or out) with them. And considering that 44% of smartphones were stolen in public places, and 14% from burglarized houses, the odds of losing their phone increase dramatically if they take it from the workplace.

If the device gets dropped or stolen at work, is the hospital liable? If the policy requires that staff bring their personal devices instead of using hospital-provided medical computers and medical tablets, there’s an argument that could be made. An argument that probably would be made, by an attorney.

Before implementing a BYOD policy, make sure employees know what’s required of them and what the liabilities are. Having employees sign documents that codifies this policy — to legally protect the hospital — will be job one.

Can Personal Devices be Managed by IT?

The IT department at a hospital or medical office (or, really, any facility or industry) performs a whole host of important jobs.

They maintain computer hardware and software, set up and manage the network, and ensure that data is protected and secure, just to name a few.

Devices that are officially owned by the hospital can all be managed with IT network software. Hospital or office-owned medical tablets are constantly under the watchful eye of the IT department. The IT team also keeps all device software updated to prevent bugs and known security breaches. They install anti-virus and firewall software on managed devices, and ensure that those programs are working and up to date.

Installing, troubleshooting, and maintaining all of these processes often requires that the tech have hours of access to the medical computer in question. With a BYOD policy, tech access to someone’s personal cell phone is extremely limited, if it’s even allowed.

Sometimes, due to liability concerns, the tech may have little to no access at all. This turns the individual user — a doctor or nurse — into the primary tech for their own device. And, unfortunately, many don’t have the time or aren’t up to the challenge.

This neglect or misunderstanding can lead to software patches not being installed and lax anti-virus maintenance, which can open up huge security holes for any device or network.

A SecureEdge Networks report indicated that as it stands, 80% of all BYOD devices are completely unmanaged by the IT team. Compare that to the standard practice of managing all medical tablets and computers in a facility, and the vast security gulf becomes more clear.

BYOD Policies Lack Standardization

Even with the proper policies in place, and a secure environment for users to log into confidentially, there comes the most frustrating feature of BYOD policies: lack of standardization.

The medical tablets and other medical touch screens purchased by the hospital typically come from the same vendor, and are running the same operating system and even use the same parts. This standardization allows IT to choose software and hardware peripherals that work with any device in the hospital.

With hundreds of unique personal devices, things get dicey.

While staff members may enjoy the familiarity of their own devices, that doesn’t mean productivity is necessarily increased across the board. When staff members have devices from a dozen different manufacturers, with different operating systems (on different versions, with different patches), trying to make software and communication work is no easy task.

Hospital apps, messaging services, and secure hospital data vaults have to be compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, and manufacturer-specific tablet OSes. Frequently used website portals must be compatible with Chrome, Safari, and half a dozen other mobile browsers.

And, most importantly, if there is a conflict, the IT department is responsible for maintaining access across dozens of different platforms and browsers. Assuming the policy even allows IT to maintain the BYOD devices, that puts a huge strain on the tech team.

To BYOD or Not to BYOD

According to an extensive study by the Ponemon Institute released in 2016, data breaches are a constant problem for almost every hospital.

In their study, they found that “nearly 90% of healthcare organizations…had a data breach in the past two years.” They then went on to report that “45% had more than five data breaches in the same time period.” Considering that the average cost of a data breach is somewhere upwards of $2 million dollars, the math speaks for itself.

BYOD policies are not without their benefits — they’re excellent short-term solutions, especially for facilities that don’t have the budget for as many dedicated medical tablets or computers as they need. BYOD has been known to boost morale, and when implemented properly can increase communication.

However, most of the studies that found this data looked at standard businesses who don’t have to worry about the stringent confidentiality and security requirements of HIPAA.

Still, with HIPAA violations costing companies like Anthem over $16 million, healthcare can ill afford to play it fast and loose with potential security breaches.

Contact Cybernet today to learn more about creating a secure network of purpose-built medical tablets and medical computers in your facility.

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Increasing Patient Engagement Improves Patient Outcomes

Patient engagement means the patient is doing more than just popping in for yearly checkups and going home without another thought toward their health.

It means transforming from a passive consumer into an active member of the team devoted to promoting health.

Educating Patients Leads to Compliance

The first step to patient engagement is education.

We know doctors and healthcare professionals are busy, facing mountains of paperwork and seemingly endless streams of patients. The shortage of healthcare professionals is also real.

However, taking the time to educate the patient on their condition can save them from coming back to your office next week or next month with exacerbated medical issues. Don’t just tell them to “stretch their wrist three times a day.” That information is easily filed away alongside “drink eight glasses of water” and “don’t go swimming after you eat.”

Instead, show the patient a diagram of the wrist on a nearby monitor or medical computer, and point out how tendon gliding can alleviate some of the symptoms, and why it works. More importantly, tell them what can happen to the tendons if they don’t do the recommended stretches.

Help Patients Educate Themselves

Another way to save time and increase patient compliance and education is to offer a bedside or in-room medical computer terminal that the patient has limited access to. It could even be the terminal that’s already in the room, with a patient-specific login.

From it, the patient could pull up their new prescriptions and learn how often they have to take their medication. They could remind themselves how to take it: with water, with food, or only in the morning.

The patient could even access information on what the drug does and how it helps. Again, “take this pill because I said so” is never going to sink in like “take this pill so your veins don’t get so small you can’t move blood around your body anymore.”

You could use such a terminal to give the patient all sorts of useful information – what food to eat, what beverages to stay away from, how often they need to take a walk around the facility. This last one could come with an alarm or reminder.

You could even show them a video or animated graphic that visually outlines a procedure they’re either considering or about to undergo.  

This doesn’t only have to be available bedside, either. For a situation like a doctor’s office, a kiosk or medical tablet in the waiting room could allow patients to log in and learn all of this information as well.

Stay in Touch to Stop Unnecessary Appointments

The next step is communication.

When the patient knows “there are no stupid questions,” they’ll be far more likely to come to you when they have a healthcare problem.

And, if you’re active on social media, have a text help or nursing line, or regularly share your email with your patients, they’ll also reach out to you remotely with small matters instead of either ignoring them (which is bad for their health) or scheduling an unnecessary appointment (which eats time and resources for all involved).

Many providers and offices use patient portals, an automated system that allows patients to contact their doctor or doctor’s office through a safe, secure channel.

Leveraging Communication Technology

Think of that bedside medical computer or medical monitor from the example earlier in this article. Not only could it be used for convenient patient education, but also to facilitate communication.

Imagine a patient using the medical computer to call the nurse’s station, and instead of a beeping light or buzzing speaker the nurse can actually see the patient face-to-face and address their concerns without leaving the desk. Not only will the patient feel more comfortable knowing they have that kind of access, but it could increase efficiency across the board.

Instead of running back and forth between rooms to find out what’s the matter when a patient rings, one nurse could be in charge of this form of communication with every room.

That triage nurse could then dispatch nurses where they’re most needed, saving them time and energy that could be best spent somewhere else.

Patient Satisfaction Strengthens Patient Engagement

This is where patient satisfaction ties in with patient engagement: patients are more likely to partner with their doctor and medical team if they are happy.

Studies and surveys have shown that patients who score higher on satisfaction and engagement metrics like the “Patient Activation Measure” are “significantly more likely than people who score lower to engage in preventive behavior such as regular check-ups, screenings, and immunizations.”

It’s basic human psychology — we disregard the advice and opinions of people we don’t like. It’s the basis for most of the unrest on social media.

So, imagine a patient who feels they’ve had a horrible experience at the hospital. They’re angry at the doctor, angry at the nurses, and they want to leave. Then, the doctor lets them know they can’t eat red meat anymore, or that they should get some exercise, or instructs them how and when to change the bandages, there’s a good chance the patient isn’t even listening anymore. Or, if they are listening, they’ve decided the doctor/staff/hospital is clearly a mess, and doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

This, in turn, leads to the patient not following the instructions, which can drastically affect their future health. The patient is not engaged, and, in fact, may be actively going against their own health because they’re angry or feeling ignored.

As you can see, patient satisfaction isn’t just about dollars and numbers — it directly affects the long-term health of the patient.

The Key to Patient Engagement

It takes both sides of the healthcare equation to make patient engagement a reality – patient participation and clinician support.

To find out more about how to leverage medical computers and tablets to improve patient outcomes you can contact Cybernet today.

How Medical Computers can Help Combat the Opioid Crisis

Prescription opioids have been in the news quite a bit lately. Congress just recently passed sweeping legislation, commonly known as the SUPPORT bill, to help combat the opioid epidemic that has been on the rise the past several years. According to studies done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 115 people per day are dying from opioid abuse. Overdoses have been on a steady rise throughout the country the past several years.

The legislation provides funding for non-opioid painkiller research, funding for addiction treatment programs, as well as reforms for how prescriptions are given and tracked. While these measure are widely praised by medical experts, as well as both political parties as a great step in the right direction, there are still several present day challenges that need to be overcome.

Imprivata and DigiCert Lead the Charge in Electronic Prescription Technology

Because opioid painkillers are considered a controlled substance, physicians traditionally haven’t been allowed to prescribe these medications electronically unless they met certain federal guidelines. Unfortunately, paper prescriptions can be doctored and patients often engaged in “doctor shopping” to fill multiple prescriptions for the same medication. This exacerbated the opioid crisis.

In 2010 the DEA passed the Electronic Prescribing for Controlled Substances (EPCS) guidelines, which has been a game changer. Any practitioner that met EPCS guidelines could electronically prescribe opioid painkillers. What this does is help secure prescriptions, as they go directly from the doctor to the pharmacy. It also creates an audit trail of who is prescribing these medications, as well creating an audit trail for patient behavior making it more difficult for addicts to doctor shop trying to get multiple prescriptions for the same ailments.

One of the key guidelines for a healthcare practitioner to become EPCS compliant is to have two factor authentication set up in their EHR or prescription system. That’s where Imprivata and DigiCert have stepped in. Imprivata is a healthcare-focused security firm that specializes in single sign on technology for healthcare facilities. DigiCert is an SSL certificate authority. The two companies have teamed up to create an automated identity proofing process called Imprivata Confirmed ID, that makes compliance with the FDA’s EPCS program much easier to attain.

Unfortunately, Healthcare Facilities are Lagging Behind

Following the passage of EPCS, pharmacies were quick to adopt best practices in order to be compliant. According to a survey conducted by Tableau in October of 2018, 95% of commercial pharmacies nationwide are EPCS enabled. By comparison, only 30% of prescribers nationwide are EPCS enabled. This massive gap is slowing down efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

Thankfully things are changing for the better. Currently 13 states have passed laws to mandate EPCS compliance. In addition, the SUPPORT bill mandates EPCS compliance for all Medicare Part D prescriptions by 2021. This should help close the gap between prescribers and pharmacies.

How Can Healthcare Facilities and Doctor’s Offices Gain Compliance?

Two factor authentication is the key to EPCS. Medical grade computers and medical grade tablets with integrated RFID readers, barcode scanners and smart card readers are already set up to be Imprivata certified, which is a major advantage over commercial grade computers that don’t offer these features. Because these units are already Imprivata compliant, falling in line with the Confirm ID process should be much easier. The two factor authentication ensures that only the prescribing physician can log into an approved EMR application and send an opioid prescription to a pharmacy. Without this, compliance with EPCS is impossible.

At Cybernet, all of our medical grade computers and tablets are engineered to have optional two-factor authentication features integrated directly into the device. We only use Imprivata certified components, ensuring a smooth transition to an EPCS enabled solution. For more questions, you can contact us here.

Bringing Medicine to the Field with Mobile Technology

There can be no doubt that mobile technology has completely changed the way we interact with the world. It has also had a major impact on nearly every industry from agriculture to e-commerce. The healthcare industry is no exception. There are a number of ways that medical grade tablets are changing the way healthcare can be administered and improve patient outcome.

Until not that long ago, patients had to travel to healthcare facilities in order to receive care, but those days, where the patient was required to go to the doctor, are over. Here are just a few ways in which mobile technology is bringing medical care into “the field” and is saving lives.

Telehealth is Changing the Game

The concept of home healthcare is nothing new. Homecare nurses have been around for decades. But for a long time, their job involved following a set routing that included excessive paperwork and double entry upon returning to their office. None of which alleviated the fact that if the patient needed to see a doctor, they still needed to go into an office.

Medical tablets have changed all of that. Homecare providers can easily take vital signs and enter them directly into the tablet. Thanks to WiFi and LTE connectivity, that patient data can be uploaded into an ERM system in real time, eliminating hours of paperwork and reducing the risk of human error when transcribing data. Most importantly, telehealth consultations with physicians can happen remotely. Doctors can teleconference with a patient, examine them through the webcam and even change treatment plans on the fly with a homecare provider right there to help answer questions.

Rugged Medical Tablets to Treat the Homeless

Homeless and displaced populations are at the greatest risk to fall through the cracks when it comes to healthcare. It can be extremely difficult for these individuals to make it to free clinics for treatment, and it is almost impossible for them to keep track of their own medical records.

Rugged medical tablets can make a massive impact on these people’s lives. First off, the rugged nature of the devices allows them to be brought into the streets and other areas that might cause severe damage to a regular mobile device. Accidental drops on pavement or inclement weather could destroy a regular tablet, but wouldn’t slow down a rugged medical tablet.

Once in the field, healthcare practitioners can easily sign up and register homeless populations for government aid programs. Their records can be recalled at later dates from the tablet. Ailments, treatments and even medication information can all be stored in EMR software accessible from the tablet to provide consistent ongoing treatment for an entire population of people that might otherwise be forgotten.

Medical Tablets Bridge the Gap Between EMTs and the ER

There is no question that EMTs do an incredible job of administering critical care to patients in route to a hospital. Whether it be a gunshot wound, allergic reaction, or something like a heart attack, the work that these individuals do is essential to achieving positive outcomes. Once an ambulance arrives on scene, it is the EMTs that provide nurses and doctors with the information they need to continue treatment. In some cases, this transition can literally mean the difference between life and death.

Medical grade tablets in an ambulance, connected to an Emergency Room intake, can easily be used to transmit vital signs and other readings to a hospital in real time. EMTs can take pictures or videos of wounds and injuries for doctors to evaluate while the patient is still on the way to the hospital. This allows for ERs to be better prepared for when the patient arrives and helps to smooth out the transition from ambulance to ER, improving patient outcomes.

Mobile Technology can Impact Preventative Medicine

Mobile health clinics and blood banks have become more and more prevalent over the years, and medical tablets go a long way toward making these facilities more efficient. Preventative medicine is designed to keep small problems from becoming large problems. Unfortunately, a number of people don’t seek out medical care for minor issues for a number of different reasons. Multiple studies have proven that mobile health clinics (MHCs) have much higher instances of people agreeing to health screenings over brick and mortar clinics. The same goes for patients reaching out to receive pre-natal care. Even something as simple as a flu shot can help improve the overall health in a community.

We also see a much higher need for blood after natural disasters and other tragic events. Mobile blood banks can go out into the community before these things happen and collect donations to bolster supplies and prevent shortages in times of need.

All of these things can be easily facilitated with medical tablets. A medical tablet with a barcode scanner can help keep blood donations organized by blood type. Donation information can be scanned and stored in the tablet removing all risk of human error. Patients can be quickly registered at MHCs and insurance information can easily be recorded using a medical tablet. Eliminating paper processes helps to ensure the speed and efficiency of these mobile clinics, making it more likely that people will return in the future.

There are countless ways that technology is changing how healthcare is administered. Cybernet is at the forefront of innovation with our medical grade computers and tablets. For more information on how we can help you create a custom solution for your unique needs you can contact us here.

The Benefit of Medical Tablets to Wound Care

When it comes to healthcare, few conditions need to be addressed with more urgency than wounds and similar injuries. Treating wounds promptly can reduce scarring, lower the risk of infection and speed the healing process. The sooner medical personnel can examine and treat a wound, the better. That often means giving tools to healthcare providers in the field, such as emergency medical technicians and firefighters, as well as wound care specialists and similar staff members at a hospital or care ward. Medical tablets make an excellent means of doing so: utilizing cutting-edge technology to address wound care with the swiftness and efficiency required for a speedy recovery. How? We’ve listed four brief ways below.

Medical Tablets Provide Telehealth Solutions

Telehealth is the means of connecting healthcare providers to their patients through technology, which can include anything from examining patients remotely to consulting experts who might not be on site. This plays an especially large role in wound care, where time is of the essence. The National Institute of Health cites a study on telehealth practices and wound care from CICAT in France, showing that telehealth practices reduced the number of hospitalizations resulting from wound care by 72%, and reduced the number of ambulance transfers by 56%. That translates not only to improved care but a significant reduction in time and resources that can be used to treat other patients.

A medical tablet plays a huge role in that process. With it, EMTs and other personnel can take pictures of the injury en route and forward it electronically to the hospital. That allows them to prepare for the patient’s arrival, as well as providing an early diagnosis to help the EMTs provide more effective immediate care. Even better, physicians at the hospital can provide a diagnosis via the tablet, and determine whether the patient needs to come to the hospital or if treatment can be effectively implemented on site.

The effects can be felt in improved response times and more patients served. For example, a 2017 study cited by the Journal of Emergency Services — involving first-responders in Houston — reported medical technicians returned to work 44 minutes faster than they would have without telehealth options: reducing wasted time without a loss of quality care.

Specialty Access Improves Effectiveness

Wounds often fall under the purveyance of a Wound, Ostomy and Continence (WOC) nurse, specially trained to deal with such injuries. Ameritech estimates that 4% of all hospital cases involve wound treatment of some kind, which means WOC nurse skills are in high demand. But that can stretch WOC nurses’ availability thin – especially when the hospital becomes busy – and with wound care, timely treatment can make a huge difference.

Hospital tablet PCs can help such specialists use their time more effectively. They permit WOC nurses and others to receive images of the injury and other data that they can use to make a swift diagnosis, then pass the needed treatment information back to the point of care without wasting time. Medical tablets can further assist in such efforts by allowing for one-handed operation – giving the attending caregiver a free hand to measure the length of the wound and provide proper scale for the WOC nurse to better make a diagnosis.

Interconnection Makes a Difference

A tablet connected to a larger computer network has access to the data in that network, allowing users to check information that they might not otherwise be able to. This has a bearing on wound care, both in terms of immediate treatment and on more general practices. For example, in Canada, the Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (TC CCAC) reported significant improvement in wound care through the use of data analytics and application. The software  allowed medical tablets to record real-time data, then track the length and rate of the healing process. That resulted in a reduction in patient readmission for wound care — down from 31% to a mere 7% –as well as a significant improvement in the length of healing.

The best medical tablet PCs allow swift and easy access to such data directly at the point of care, whether it be in a hospital setting or in the field. That, in turn, allows medical personnel to apply the data to their particular patient, ensuring more effective treatment faster.

Tablets with Antimicrobial Components Provide Safeguards

Sterility and hygiene are serious concerns for any kind of medical treatment, but they particularly important when it comes to wounds. Open wounds are exceedingly vulnerable to infection (which can come from almost anywhere), and even wounds from sterilized environments such as surgery incisions develop infections some 1-to-3 percent of the time, according to studies from Johns Hopkins.

That makes sterility very important for any devices operating in close proximity to any wound. Tablets are of especial concern since they are often passed from technician to technician, and used to treat numerous patients for a wide variety of issues. That, in turn, can increase the threat of germs and infection when treating any kind of wound.

That’s part of why medical-grade tablets are preferable to commercial-grade tablets when it comes to point-of-care for wounds. More specifically, tablets with an antimicrobial surface will keep germs from being transmitted from one patient to another, reducing the risk when used to treat an open or infected wound. In addition, tablets protected from liquid ingress, such as those with an IP65 rating, can be safely cleaned with liquid disinfectant and kept hygienic much more easily.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing offers a series of  medical tablet PCs for a variety of uses, including point-of-care and EMT services. Contact us today 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.