Medical Tablets and the Rise of Telemedicine

6-ways-purpose-built-medical-tablets-make-hospitals-safer-for-patients

Telehealth is rapidly rising thanks to increasing mobility in patient care, a need to streamline processes and an imperative to reduce healthcare costs. Currently, 83 percent of physicians use mobile technology to provide care, driving the mobility of patient information as well. The ultimate goal of telehealth is to eliminate geographic constraints, deliver quality patient care, and meet the needs of rural populations as well as those in inner cities.

Many healthcare providers are showing an increasing interest in telehealth not just for the benefits to themselves (including more comprehensive, faster access to patient data and images), but for lower costs and better care. Medical tablets allow doctors and nurses to “meet” with patients anywhere at any time and access all data required from a single device.

Telehealth offerings include customer online access to providers, making diagnoses, prescriptions for, and treatment of basic, common illnesses possible without an in-office visit.  Real-time, video-based virtual consults can be set up between providers and patients, chronically ill patients can be monitored at home, and primary care physicians can consult with specialists for diagnosis confirmation instantly.

Mobile devices such as tablets can be distributed to patients in rural areas or centralized at a remote “clinic” where patients can be checked in on a tablet and wait for their consult. These tablets can be utilized for filling out HIPAA/release forms for records from outside hospitals; and sent an alert when the patient is next in line to be “seen.”

The latest advancements in mobile technology promise seamless integration into existing systems, higher quality of patient care, and lower costs for healthcare providers. Many healthcare providers have already made the switch to mobile technology thanks to the increasing popularity of mobile devices and tablet use.

Diagnostic medical imaging software can enable physicians to diagnose from any location when they can securely view patient images and reports from tablets, and consult with specialists remotely. Such software can be integrated into electronic medical records to update patient records immediately, and patients can view their own images via a secure login.

Mobile technology in the healthcare workplace and an increasing acceptance of private and public cloud technologies plays a critical role in creating cost-effective platforms. Medical tablet tech makes it easy to manage information gathering, education, case file maintenance, radiologist-technology interfaces, and patient interactions with speed and privacy in any place at any time.

 

Medical Automation: Tech Meets the Healthcare Industry

Hospitals are ecosystems. The flow of information is lifeblood, and the devices that capture, display, store, analyze and transmit the data are the organs. Using the best possible devices in healthcare settings means that data is properly handled, utilized, and shared, providing better outcomes for patients and streamlined workflow processes for personnel.  

Improved Workflows

The workflow starts with the patient. The data they provide is crucial to proper treatment. This data must be captured as swiftly, completely, and accurately as possible. Having medical cart computers ensures information can be entered and checked with the patient in real time, while ascertaining vital data such as medical history and drug interactions.

While patient-provided data isn’t always accurate, it often contains the key to proper diagnosis and treatment and can help avoid errors leading to patient endangerment form allergic reactions, drug interactions, and more. Patient side computing also allows for authorized personnel and family members to share in completing histories and other key data acquisition, enhancing rapid and appropriate care via approved treatment plans.

Digital Strategy

Digital strategies allow doctors to streamline and reengineer the process to create visual, automated services that can be shared with patients and other doctors for a clear picture and better comprehension, building patient trust for their medical professionals.

  • Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are a perfect example, already being implemented across the country to track patient health data and support medical decisions. Digital medical imaging systems sync with records systems making it easy to compare images and update files, share information, and transfer records.  
  • Mobile health (mHealth) initiatives are also on the rise, enabling physicians and patients to use mobile devices to improve care.
  • Telemedicine is another byproduct of digital health care, providing broader access regardless of location, leading to improved care in rural areas.
  • Real-time location systems (RTLS) can locate equipment, patients and staff.

Process Duplication

Another aspect of medical automation is how it can reduce process duplication and the errors that can arise due to this issue. Standardizing procedures, breaking them down into individual components, digitizing data, connecting various types of records, and analyzing data leads to complete integration of disparate elements.  

Advanced Technology

Better tech means better outcomes. Mobile, cloud and new communication technologies working together to capture data from EHRs, wearables, clinical information systems, mobile devices and more can streamline workflows and enable providers to spend more time with patients and less time on non-patient side care.

What Medical-Cart Computers with Hot Swappable Batteries Mean for the Health Care Industry

Medical cart computers provide multiple advantages for both patients and health care personnel. The features outshine those of computers on wheels (COWs) and the advanced technology streamlines patient care, no matter where the patient is located in the hospital or care center. Benefits apply not only to the patients themselves, but anyone handling and deriving treatment knowledge from the data.

Hot Swappable Batteries

Possibly the most attractive benefit of the medical cart computer is the advantageous hot swapped battery system, which allows batteries to be exchanged without the unit powering down. Each unit comes with 3 batteries, meaning that the computer can run continuously covering entire shifts, never going down and causing interruption of patient care or loss of data. The cart never has to be taken to another location for charging – the batteries are simply removed and charged while a fresh battery is installed to continue operation. This provides for superior service at the point of care.

Data Access and Capability

With data capability at the patient’s side, any relevant records, test results, or doctor notes can be reviewed on the spot. Allergies can be cross referenced, and medication contraindications checked for. Doctors and nurses will have access to the information they need at all times, resulting in less mistakes and higher productivity for each shift. There is no running back and forth looking for patient records or folders – all the data is stored by the patient’s bedside in a portable format that can be taken from room to room as needed.

Cost and Time Efficiency

The built in swappable batteries offer a more affordable option that traditional medical cart batteries, which are large, heavy, expensive and take longer to charge. The 3 batteries  cover about 16 hours of operation , and every shift can start with fresh batteries. The time saved by always being able to depend on the medical cart computer being powered up and accessible is vast – and patient care is made that much more accurate with all the data at each caretaker’s fingertips.

Using medical cart computers is good for patients, good for nursing staff, good for doctors, and good for administrators who need accurate records to manage patient transfers, billing, and more. With Electronic Health Records rapidly supplanting older, traditional forms of data storage, having portable, high tech medical cart computers for every hospital room is something for hospitals, urgent care centers, and more to aspire to.

How NextGen Computers-on-Wheels (COWS) Enhance Patient Care

Electronic Medical Record (EMR) systems are digitizing healthcare. Facilities are racing to find and purchase the best equipment that will both safeguard their patients’ data according to the requirements set out by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) act, and give health care professionals better flexibility and functionality to deliver patient care.  

IT vs. Caregiver Perspectives

IT departments can be blind to the realities of what their professionals on the floor really need. Many facilities turned to wall or desk mounted PCs in as many rooms as possible, tethering each device to a static location. However, caregivers found mobility to be their biggest advantage, thus PCs mounted on medical carts were considered as an option.

Although these first generation options (often referred to as Computers-on-Wheels (COWS) and Workstations-on-Wheels (WOWS)) promised mobility, the laptop computers often ran out of battery charge mid-shift, causing delays in patient care due to power issues.

In addition, using an off-the-shelf laptop computer on top of a medical cart was found to be problematic, as the practice quickly spread bacteria from room to room within a hospital, due to the computer fan blowing air around. The concept of a consumer grade PC simply mounted on a standard medical cart was discarded, and a new concept was implemented – the all-in-one medical-cart computer.

DT Research’s next generation medical-cart computers have addressed the previous power issues with a hot swappable battery that can be switched on the spot without losing connectivity, and the bacteria spreading issues were also resolved, leading to a cutting edge solution that offers true medical computing at the point-of-care.

The Triangle of Patient Care

There are three points to the triangle of patient care; the patient themselves, the data, and the caregiver. Having an all-in-one medical-cart computer available at the point-of-care allows medical professionals to complete electronic based charting while at the side of the patient. Advantages include:

  • Real time, on location methodology of data collection and entry. This ensures rapid input of information in a timely manner as well as the ability to double check with the patient when it comes to items like medical histories and allergies.

  • Optimal layout of the facility thanks to the unit not being tethered permanently to a wall or desk. This allows for greater mobility for staff and physicians who don’t have to work around the cart when it’s not in use.

  • Suitability for use in conjunction with wall mounts. The all-in-one medical-cart computer can be wheeled in and used as a comparison with data available on a wall mount when time is short and data transfer is minutes that are not to be wasted.

  • Access across floors and specialties for complex cases. A mobile, integrated medical-cart computer assigned to a complex case can be taken from floor to floor, parked by the patient’s bed, and charts updated seamlessly when sending information electronically for every move and change isn’t time effective or productive.

Efficiency + Productivity + Accuracy = Better Patient Care

NexGen Medical-Cart Computers take the uncertainty and delays out of patient data collection, entry, and sharing. The ability to work on a patient and then enter data without interrupting workflow to find a wall mount or go to a centralized data entry station means that patient care is handled quickly and efficiently and the care is improved by better accuracy and less human error.

NextGen Medical-Cart Computers by DT Research will help facilitate broad adoption of EMR systems, which will significantly improve medical outcomes.

Understanding All-In-One Medical-Cart Computers for Point-of-Care

Point-of-Care drives nearly every variation of medical equipment found in a facility. The POC is the location the medical-cart has in proximity to services or procedures being completed, and determines whether the cart is stocked with  pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, or data in an all-in-one medical-cart computer.

Many medical carts reside in a Pre-POC storage and restocking area until needed. Of these, all-in-one medical-cart computers may be lined up near where batteries are kept for quick hot swapping, and the charging stations for the batteries can also be located nearby so drained batteries can be plugged in. As rooms are assigned to patients, medical-cart computers can also be assigned to the room, or dedicated to recording the care of that patient through the facility.

Common Medical-Cart Computer POCs

More and more medical-cart computers are being implemented in hospitals and other care facilities, and designated for doctor and nurse use, streamlining patient care and ensuring that data is correctly input in a timely manner. An all-in-one medical-cart computer provides medical staff with the ability to quickly and effectively manage:

  • Facility Operations and Maintenance. Data to be accessed could include power grid and Internet options, managed via an all-in-one medical-cart computer with a built in battery.

  • Central Supply. While many medical carts will simply be designated for restocking, one or more medical-cart computers may be used to track inventory and assign tasks.

  • Pharmacy / Medication. Obviously the need for tracked inventory is even more crucial when pharmaceuticals are involved, an all-in-one medical-cart computer with a built in battery provides a timestamped way to verify dosages and administration.

  • Sterile Processing. Another POC that may or may not require data entry, these medical carts are located by sterile rooms or outside operating theaters.

  • Traction. Specialty items and procedures are required for traction patients, and a POC medical-cart computer can help make sure staff remember protocols.

  • Anesthesia POC medical-cart computers can also require additional equipment and hot-swappable batteries for continual for accuracy of treatment and up to the minute reports on a patient’s condition.

  • NICU. There is probably no other place where information on patients is updated more frequently than the neonatal ICU. Staff members can make extensive notes so each new shift can be quickly updated and review data from the previous shifts. An all-in-one medical-cart computer can move with the neonatal bed from location to location.

Carts with built in mobility and computing power provide an upgraded experience for both patients and staff. Instead of being forced to retreat to a centrally located terminal to enter data and waiting for a slot to open up, a medical cart computer can be quickly utilized at the Point-of-Care and the data fed directly into the database from anywhere in the hospital. Authentication protocols meet HIPAA requirements, and patient care improves significantly.