Medical computers on wheels are everywhere, but can they be more efficient?
Medical cart computers have been around for a while, but their saturation in hospitals has never been higher than it is now.
Sometimes called COWs (computers on wheels), cart computers have increased connectivity, patient confidentiality, and accountability across the board. And while inputting data in an EMR computer isn’t always a beloved task for clinicians, the wealth of information has helped medicine in a myriad of ways.
But can medical cart computers be used better? Can they be lighter, take up less space, and be deployed in such a way as to maximize their benefit for hospitals around the world?
Let’s find out.
1. Switch to a Lighter Cart
Medical cart computers come with a number of obvious benefits and practical uses for nurses and doctors zipping around the hospital.
While it’s true that older carts can be extremely heavy and less-mobile, modern carts can go on rounds without breaking your forearms. They’ve become lighter over time, moving from heavy powered carts with lead-acid batteries to thin, non-powered carts equipped with battery-powered computers.
Not only are cumbersome carts just a pain to maneuver around, they can actually end up being a fire hazard and even a fire code violation in certain areas. A medical cart with a smaller footprint, one that doesn’t need to be plugged into a wall, can go a long way toward increasing fire safety and dodging potential fines. And, all regulation aside, it just makes for a safer hospital.
Widespread medical computer access allows doctors and nurses to do their rounds faster. Agile medical cart computers preserve workflow, speed up appointments, and ensure that patient data is always close at hand.
2. Embrace Better Computer Security with Two-Factor Authentication
The protection of patient data has never been more important. Not only is it important to protect patient’s information from a moral and ethical standpoint, but because it can also do great harm to a clinician or a facility to let security slide.
HIPAA violations have never been more prevalent (or more expensive), which is why security on a medical cart computer, which are often left unattended in hallways, must be top priority. Passwords are easily broken (or found) – the only way to guarantee mobile cart is safe is to use two-factor authentication, or single sign-on technology (like Imprivata).
Single-sign on is popular in a number of industries. Imprivata OneSign is a heavily encrypted, healthcare-approved tool that condenses all of a clinicians many passwords and accounts into one locked box. This means that instead of having to remember twenty passwords, a clinician only needs to know their Imprivata password to access (and even auto-fill) all of the others.
Two-factor authentication (sometimes called multi-factor authentication) is a security requirement where the staff member must present at least two “forms of ID.” This is usually done with a combination of a standard password and physical proof like a fingerprint, a smart card, an ID card, an RFID, or even a badge with a barcode on it.
This is why it’s important to choose an all-in-one medical PC combo that can come with integrated barcode, RFID, smart card, or biometric scanners. The idea of the small, light cart only works if you don’t need six peripherals banging around on the thing.
Speaking of peripherals . . .
3. Find a Medical PC for Your Cart with a DC Output
Peripherals like printers and barcode scanners (two ubiquitous hospital devices) need power. And if we’re jettisoning the heavy battery-powered carts, we need to pull juice from somewhere.
Luckily, some modern medical computers are designed with non-powered carts in mind and can offer DC outputs at the desired voltage. This power is pulled right from the computer’s battery: which isn’t too serious of a drain, usually, considering the relatively low power draws of small peripherals.
This power option combines a thin all-in-one PC and an agile non-powered cart to keep weight down, to maximize utility, and to create a mobile platform where a clinician can perform all of their duties without having to swap equipment.
4. Teach Staff to Use Their Mobile Research Platforms
All clinicians have to do research from time to time: no human can be expected to remember every single medical issue ever discovered by mankind. Drug interactions have practically infinite combinations and permutations and require study and research on a daily basis.
By having mobile cart computers everywhere, clinicians can stop at any of a dozen terminals around the hospital to look up the information they need. Whether trying to diagnose a rare or oddly-presenting condition or simply curious about how a particular antidepressant works alongside a new prescription, clinicians can find out right away without having to run back to their office or a nurse’s station.
It’s important to encourage clinicians to use these mobile cart computers whenever they can. This speeds up hospital operations, improves patient experience (less time waiting), and ensures that everyone in the hospital has the tools they need no matter where they are.
Implementing Medical Cart Computers
The key to properly implementing a fleet of medical cart computers is to understand exactly what your staff needs. Over or under-buying, or simply grabbing a device with solutions you don’t need, is always going to end up throwing a wrench in both budget and in staff workflow.
If safety and privacy is your concern, look into privacy screens and two-factor authentication. If agility is important, look into medical all-in-ones with hot-swappable batteries that keep the cart going 24/7.
To learn more about the kind of all-in-one PCs that can be customized for exactly whatever mobile cart solution you need, contact Cybernet today.