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5 Ways Mobile Health Clinics Benefit from Medical-Grade Tablets

When most people think of medical care, they think of traditional care facilities such as hospitals and medical clinics. But times are changing, and the advent of new technology has freed healthcare facilities to move… literally. Mobile healthcare clinics are becoming increasingly common: able to travel to patients in rural locales or similar distant spots without surrendering the efficiency and accuracy of quality medical care. According to a recent article by Reuters, mobile healthcare accounted for over $23 billion in revenue in 2017, and that number only looks to expand in the future.

Medical-grade computers, especially tablets, can play a huge role in helping mobile health clinics more effectively treat their patients. As mHealth practices become increasingly prevalent and healthcare facilities weigh their options, it pays to understand what kinds of benefits one can derive from the right computer system. Here are a few benefits that medical-grade tablets can provide to mobile health clinics.

They’re Better Protected from Drops

Mobile health operations can’t always depend on the carefully controlled conditions one finds in a hospital or similar clinic. For example, a mobile tablet needs to be tougher and more durable than a commercial grade tablet. Mobile health clinics are vulnerable to many more bumps and jolts than stationary workspaces, and if an out-of-the-box tablet is dropped or jostled, it could suffer a great deal of damage. That in turn could severely affect the clinic’s ability to provide viable care by eliminating access to the computer’s data and analysis abilities. Mobile clinics lend themselves to more people handling the tablet as well. Patient registration, questionnaires or even accessing patient portals means a device might be handled by dozens of people per day. And patients aren’t always as careful with a device that isn’t theirs.

A rugged medical tablet should be tough enough to handle such drops. Ideally, it should be in compliance with military-grade specifications, allowing it to be dropped safely and endure similar bumps and jolts without damage. That ensures you’ll be able to use the tablet as needed and prevents the odd pothole or fumbling hands from turning a key part of your mobile clinic’s operation into an expensive paperweight.

Stop Germs from Spreading When You Travel

The spread of germs and illness from one patient to another is a serious concern for any healthcare organization. Hospitals and stationary clinics go to great lengths to curtail the spread of nosocomial pathogens (illnesses incurred directly from exposure at a hospital or clinic). That becomes much more difficult in a mobile health setting. The simple act of moving from place to place exposes staff members and patients alike to germs and similar illnesses, and mobile clinic staff who aren’t careful can inadvertently spread such contamination as they move from place to place.

This is especially problematic with mobile devices used in such locations. For example, studies from the National Institute of Health indicated that 80% of cell phones used by medical staff members carried some kind of bacterial pathogen on the surface. Tablets carry the same risks, since they are handled on a regular basis by hospital staff who spend a great deal of time in touch with contagious patients.

Medical tablet PCs can provide protection on that front. Specifically, tablets with an antimicrobial coating – or even better, antimicrobial properties in the resin of the case itself – can help repel germs and keep them from spreading from patient to patient as the mobile clinic goes about its rounds. In addition, tablets that are IP65 certified are protected against liquid or dust ingress, which means you can clean them with liquid disinfectant without compromising their operational capacity.

Telehealth Applications Bring Doctors Closer to Distant Patients

One of the central purposes of mobile clinics is to bring healthcare to people who might not be able to readily reach a stationary hospital. Whether it’s because they’re in a rural location far away from an established clinic, they lack the resources to travel there, or they’re sufficiently ill that reaching a hospital or similar location constitutes an undue burden on their health, a mobile clinic provides a ready answer by bringing equipment and personnel to them instead of the other way around.

Telehealth practices allow patients and doctors to connect from vast distances and provide efficient care via video teleconferencing and similar practices. For instance, the world’s first “virtual hospital” – Mercy Virtual Care Center in St. Louis – oversees care for almost 4,000 people living at home with chronic conditions. They, in turn, are connected to over 40 hospitals and 800 physicians in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, who can reach those distant patients via WiFi connections.

Medical grade tablets, with their light weight and easy portability, make an ideal way to establish such connections: allowing a patient to receive examinations, diagnoses, medical prescriptions and the like from doctors throughout an entire network of hospitals… all without leaving their bedrooms.

RFID and Barcode Scanners Streamline Data Management

Data management remains a serious concern for any medical organization, and such concerns loom all the larger in a mobile clinic. Bloodmobiles, for example, need to catalogue and keep track of the blood they collect, which involves a great deal of paperwork to make sure the samples are accurately catalogued.

Integrating such details into an electronic medical record (EMR) can be a painstaking and at times exhausting process. A recent New York Times articles stated that physicians can spend as much as half of their time on EMRs instead of catering for patients, which leads to a greater frequency of mistakes and increased burnout. Those factors are enhanced for mobile healthcare, which needs to ensure the data they gather is accurate and can be integrated into the EMRs of their entire network.

A tablet equipped with barcode scanners, radio frequency ID (RFID) tags, and similar features, can streamline the process of data management considerably.  To take the above example, a barcode scanner linked to a medical tablet can quickly and accurately enter the blood type, date and time of collection, and donor data simply by reading the barcode on the blood sample itself. That, in turn, can be relayed instantly back to the hospital or stationary clinic, allowing its seamless integration into the network’s EMRs. Hospital staff can then make use of the data immediately – without having to wait for the mobile clinic to “return to base” – and personnel are spared the effort of cataloging the data by hand.

Hot Swap Batteries Provide Constant Power

Anyone who’s owned a cell phone – which is pretty much everyone at this point – knows the feeling of helplessness when their device runs out of power. Mobile clinics can experience a similar drain on their equipment, which can be a considerable problem with limited electrical outlets and finite power. A mobile tablet won’t be very useful if it needs to be plugged in to retain power, and dealing with low battery levels can distract staff members from the patient care they should be engaged in.

A tablet with “hot swap” batteries can help solve this problem. Such units can swap batteries out while the power is turned on: replacing them with fresh units from a recharging station without forcing you to shut off the tablet. That, in turn, allows it to continue operating 24/7, ensuring that staff members can use it whenever and wherever it’s needed without having to plug it in beforehand.

 

Cybernet Manufacturing carries a line of medical-grade tablet PCs that address the concerns of a mobile clinic. If your organization is invested in mobile medical services, contact us today to discuss your options!

medical grade PCs

4 Things Medical Device Manufacturers Should Look for in a Tablet

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

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

Medical Certifications

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

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

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

Processing Power

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

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

Customizability

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

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

Product Longevity

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

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

 

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

Tablet Use In The Medical Space

Information is gold. Timely access to the right information is priceless, especially in healthcare. The adoption of medical tablets in healthcare has reduced costs, improved quality of care and its mobility, and offered the fast and easy access to critical data. Healthcare mobility saves lives and empowers doctors and patients alike.

Mobility

The mobility makes medical tablets a natural fit in healthcare. Provided the device sports a reliable battery (better yet hot-swappable), the mobility is further backed by a reliable 24/7 uptime required in hospitals and emergency responder units.

Powerful computing capabilities coupled with multi-touch interfaces, stylus support, and light weight are some of the reasons hospitals are acquiring medical tablets. A tablet designed for medical use needs a processor powerful enough to be at par with its desktop counterpart. Such tablets pull buyers’ attention from the traditional laptops.

Fast, Accurate Data Entry

Clinicians equipped with tablets during on-round checkups keep personalized patient interactions, quickly access and capture critical data. No more double entry work, or skipped details –  the same reason first responders praise the benefits of rugged medical tablets in emergency situations.

Ruggedness, in this case, is a must since no consumer grade device can withstand the pressures and rugged environments of emergency situations, or survive accidental drops inside a facility. Medical tablets come fully ruggedized, equipped with various mounting options, a handle or carrying strips. Being lightweight & easy to carry in one hand, tablets have successfully replaced the traditional pen and paper, or laptops.

Integrated scanners/readers help validate patients, track and administer medications, and reduce the risk of error.

Applications

One of the key factors affecting the buyers’ choice when buying medical tablets is the operating system. Mobile operating systems like iOS and Android might provide hosted apps, or a virtual desktop. Yet, healthcare processes rely on enterprise systems and applications that doctors and nurses must be able to access from their tablets. Windows-based medical tablets offer complete compatibility for medical software & hardware. Be it EPIC EHR, or Anesthesia Applications, office back-end databases, patient infotainment, or patient tracking – Windows has an undisputed advantage in this area.

Compatibility

For a medical tablet to be easily integrated into the existing infrastructure of a facility, it has to a) run the operating system that is compatible with most applications; b) have HDMI, USB (micro and regular-size) ports to support direct access to data stored on USB drives and external hard drives, and allow for encryption of that data; c) have additional ports that allow connecting to the required equipment and peripherals.

When the tablet provides the necessary connectivity and compatibility features, it can be integrated into virtually any healthcare process from patient vitals monitoring, to EMRs, nursing stations, anesthesia carts, telemedicine, dispensing medication, issuing and signing prescriptions, point of care diagnostics to tracking inventory in pharmacies.

Ergonomics

Many healthcare applications call for the tablets to support the multi-display mode, or be large enough for the clinicians to be able to compare two images on the same screen. Modern technology allows for the medical tablets to be built from military-grade components offering crisp, detailed, hi-res image.

Tablets that support the dual-display capability can be connected to larger screens when the need arises. Top that with docking stations, VESA mounting, or Power-over-Ethernet, and you get an unprecedented ergonomics  much greater than that of traditional laptops or consumer tablets. Medical tablets are largely used by emergency responders, in ICUs, operating rooms, patient rooms, in hallways and corridors, at patient admission and discharge.

Infotainment – Patient-Friendly Hospitals

70% of hospital executives say “patient satisfaction” is their organizations’ top priority, according to a survey by Catalyst Healthcare Research and The Beryl Institute. Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals’ income depends on patient satisfaction, and infotainment plays the key role in the way patients assess their hospital stay, offering unprecedented communication capabilities to patients and doctors.

From mobile games to emails, video conferencing and productivity apps, to educational slide shows, videos,  and ordered meals – infotainment tablets guide the patients from anxiety to satisfaction. Clinicians and nurses take advantage of educational apps and videos to instruct the patients on how to tend to their needs after discharge, or how to find their way around the facility.

Infotainment systems encourage patient engagement, serve as a positive distraction that relieves patient anxiety, make rooms feel spacious and futuristic due to wireless ergonomic design, and let patients quickly connect to healthcare professionals and family members. Easily shared medical tablets help physicians involve patients in discussing information, and provide it in an interactive, “easy-to-digest” manner.

Patient monitoring, Nursing Coordination

Measuring physiological signals has become easier with the advent of medical tablets. Noninvasive body sensors collect physiological parameters such as pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature, and even detect when a patient falls. Wireless transmission of the acquired data to a physician’s or nurse’s tablet is instant. Such telehealth systems eliminate the wire clutter from the patient room, increasing patient safety. These systems identify abnormal conditions automatically, alert the medical staff in real time, and have proven to be very effective.

Data Security

Secure user authentication in medical tablets may rely on different technologies from biometric readers to RFID and Smart Card readers, to passwords, pins, full disk encryption and security key fobs. Strict HIPAA regulations on data protection call for a thorough look at a tablet’s data protection capabilities. Yet, when a tablet provides state-of-the-art data privacy protection tools, the device can be easily left in a public area of the hospital, and unauthorized users will not be able to access the sensitive information. Let alone the benefits such stringent security provides in telemedicine, when a lot of patient data is stored on the device.

Integrated Readers & Scanners in medical tablets further amplify their application in patient tracking, receipt issuing, inventory tracking and many applications that rely on barcodes, beacons, RFID or smart cards.

Patient & Doctor Safety

Patient and doctor protection from hospital-acquired infections is high on hospitals’ agendas. The advent of antimicrobial coating and fully antimicrobial casing in medical tablets has made them safe for near-patient use in sterile ICUs, operating and patient rooms. Fan-less builds have further improved the device safety by eliminating the particles circulation present in fan-based cooling systems.

Antimicrobial coating in medical equipment and furniture is gaining traction fast, and hospitals are eagerly harnessing the benefits of surfaces that keep eliminating pathogens continuously, even in between the disinfecting procedures.

The ingress protection (IP) of medical tablets allows them to withstand harsh disinfection with chemical solutions that harm consumer-grade devices. Moreover, if a tablet offers 60601-1 certification, it ensures the patient and doctor protection against electrical and radiation hazards.

Low Cost-of-Ownership

When all the prerequisites of a robust medical tablet are met, the end result translates to a low failure rate (i.e. Cybernet’s medical tablets have the overall failure rate less than 2%). This, in turn, translates to a low cost-of-ownership of rugged medical tablets – unlike consumer tablets used in healthcare.