For fields like the healthcare industry, specialized all-in-one computers provide a number of important benefits that traditional commercial systems don’t. Medical grade computers must perform specific and sometimes highly specialized tasks in an extremely stressful environment. When purchasing such a system, you need to be certain that it’s up for the job.

A computer is an investment, and the rate of return on that investment isn’t always obvious when you first purchase it. Canny organizations need to look carefully at a product’s life cycle and determine if it will stand the test of time. They should also weigh the benefits of longevity (which isn’t quite the same as life cycle) and understand exactly how that makes for a better return on investment (ROI). In order to maximize both the life cycle and the longevity of your system, you need to go beyond commercial-grade PC solutions and quick-fix purchases.

What Is a Product Life Cycle?

When referring to the life cycle of a medical computer, a manufacturer is talking about how long a particular product will remain in production. Anyone who’s gone out to their local Best Buy to get a new laptop knows that a newer model is typically on the shelf within a few months. When it comes to computers to be used in healthcare, there are a lot of advantages to choosing a manufacturer with a long product life-cycle. 

EMR software, for instance, takes a lot of time and effort to properly implement. Records need to be integrated, proper procedures need to be developed, and networks over multiple locations need to be properly synchronized to use the software properly. An EMR implementation can take several months to a year or longer. Medical device manufacturers face a different but equally time consuming challenge when it comes to getting their devices certified. That process can take several months, and any changes to hardware could result in the need to get the device re-certified.  

A medical PC with a long life cycle makes these processes much easier. Any IT manager will tell you how difficult it is to do a software implementation across a uniform set of devices. Any bugs or obstacles to the process increase exponentially when you start trying to do that same implementation across multiple manufacturers and models of computers. Or imagine you are a medical device manufacturer ready to go to market only to find out that you have to redesign your entire unit because the computer you built your device around moved that vital USB port from the right side to the left side. A computer with a long life cycle, however, won’t run into those issues, allowing the certification and implementation process to take place without a hitch. That in turn helps maintain your network’s overall functionality and ensure the most value for your money.

MTBF (More than Just an Acronym)

Most commercial and home PCs are designed to be turned off at the end of the workday, or when their users are doing other things. In hospitals and similar medical institutions, however, “after hours” simply doesn’t exist. Most healthcare facilities need devices that will function 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for years in many cases. A medical cart computer, for example, is likely to be left on all day long as the day shift transitions to the night shift and back. The same is true with computers that are being used as a patient monitoring device. 

Inexpensive consumer models likely have a much lower mean time between failures (MTBF) than a dedicated, high-end medical computers, meaning these computers are likely to break down much more quickly. The reason for this is that medical grade computers use industrial grade components and feature less moving parts. Fewer moving parts means fewer things that can break. A fanless medical computer, for instance, has one less point of failure, since there is no fan apparatus to generate friction and break down. Using SSD drives — which similarly feature no moving parts — is another way to increase MTBF. That’s one of the reasons why the up-front cost of a medical-grade computer is higher, but it’s also why you get a greater ROI because there are fewer hardware failures and units don’t need to be replaced as often.


Address IT Concerns Before Purchasing

Life cycle and longevity issues can fall quite heavily on the IT department. Computers with a long life cycle invariably benefit IT concerns by reducing the number of different models they need to work on. As we noted earlier, computers with short life cycles will need replacing or upgrading more often, which can easily lead to multiple different types of computers operating in the same organization. If you have to buy a new computer every six months, that can lead to multiple vendors, multiple systems and multiple points of support, which complicates IT’s lives considerably.

A system with a long life cycle, on the other hand, means you likely need to rely on only one model. That means a single point of support when there are problems, so your IT team only needs to make one phone call instead of four or five. This all but eliminates finger pointing, which is one of the greatest hindrances to troubleshooting most IT problems. 

Similarly, a system with a high MTBF means that your team won’t have to deal with “break-fix” incidents very often. Computers with short life cycles tend to break down more often, making IT little more than an in-house repair service most of the time. A more reliable system with a longer life, on the other hand, allows them to focus on other pressing matters such as upgrades and revenue generating products, instead of dealing with repair issues that require immediate attention.


The medical grade all-in-one computers from Cybernet provide tremendous ROI for their entire life cycle, ensuring that your organization can keep the focus on your patients instead of the tools used to care for them. Contact us here to learn more about what we offer.