There's no question that mobile technology is ubiquitous in everyday healthcare practices. But why not just choose an off-the-shelf mobile device? There are a number of reasons why a healthcare facility should choose a medical grade tablet over a commercial grade counterpart.
Nosocomial Infection Control - Nosocomial infections are infections that are transmitted from one patient to another in a hospital or healthcare setting, and they are a major problem. Unlike medical computers, medical tablets are more likely to exchange hands from one practitioner to the next, and may even be handled by patients. Medical grade tablets are antimicrobial to prevent the spread of harmful microbes and are IP65 rated so they can be regularly disinfected without damaging the unit.
They Are Engineered for Healthcare - Unlike commercial grade tablets, medical tablets are specifically engineered for healthcare use. They feature ergonomic designs, rugged builds and features like built in barcode scanners to help healthcare practitioners perform their duties. They are also typically designed with additional full sized ports not commonly found in commercial grade tablets, allowing them to be integrated with or embedded into other medical devices to improve interoperability.
Increased Security - Patient medical records are more valuable on the black market than financial data. That is why HIPAA regulates data security so strictly. A bring your own device (BYOD) policy, or investment in commercial grade units creates an IT security nightmare. Medical tablets are equipped with security features like integrated RFID readers and biometric scanners to ensure that only authorized users can operate the device.
The practical applications of medical tablets in healthcare are nearly limitless. Some of the more common use cases are as follows:
Remote Healthcare - Mobile clinics and in-home healthcare both benefit tremendously from medical grade tablets. Nurses and other staff can easily record patient vitals and other information into their device, and WiFi or LTE connectivity allows patient medical records to be updated in real-time, cutting down on double entry and human error.
Patient Registration - The healthcare industry spends billions of dollars on paper each year. This isn't hard to imagine either. Anyone who has been to a doctor's office knows how many forms they need to fill out at each new doctor they see. Medical tablets can eliminate virtually all paperwork, and the antimicrobial properties of the medical tablet prevents the spread of germs, unlike clipboards that are passed from one sick patient to the next.
Patient Rounds - Medical tablets offer a lightweight alternative to medical cart computers. While they don't have as much processing power or features, for simple tasks, a medical tablet is a suitable option. The integrated barcode scanner allows nurse's to quickly scan patient ID bands and record vitals on the tablet. Nurses can even use the integrated webcam to consult with wound care specialists to gauge healing and alter care strategies as needed.