serial ports blog

Serial Ports, A Dated Yet Necessary Feature

Serial Ports, An Included Legacy Component

With as much new technology that Tangent packs into their all-in-one medical computers, one does not expect to see any sort of legacy components included. However, if you look at the I/O ports on the back of the Tangent M24T medical computer, something surprising is present: three RS-232 DB9 ports. For those of us that are not polished up on our knowledge of every serial port that ever existed, the RS-232 is a standard computer serial port for communication that dates back about five decades, and was used for a wide array of purposes like connections to modems, printers, mice, data storage, circuit protection, connectors, optoelectronics, passive components, uninterrupted power supplies, and more. This is all fine and dandy, but the questions still stand. What are serial ports from the 60s doing on new computers? What does this have to do with medical standards? Why don’t they just solely use USB?

Well, simply put, medical devices have varying ways of providing data to computers. Most still have uncomplicated serial ports, while newer ones have HDMI, ethernet or USB ports, depending on the protocol being used for communication.  A true medical computer needs to be able to fit the requirements of each medical device it’s connected to, as well as the clinical workflows of the medical facility and that particular care center’s IT environment. And the old RS-232 interface is an attractive alternative to the more temperamental digital interfaces for many medical device manufacturers because it’s robust, consistent, and easy to use. The adage of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” applies heavily for the serial port standards in a great number of devices. Tangent’s dedication to providing convenience and value to medical care providers led to the inclusion of the trusted legacy ports. The M24T medical computer is able to connect to a kidney monitoring device, an ultrasound device, and a patient monitor using the serial ports, and still have 6 USB ports and an HDMI port free for other uses.

All the newer, fancy bells and whistles are bundled up into this incredible medical computer as well. It features a 24 inch PCAP touchscreen monitor, an Intel 6th generation Core i Series, fast memory up to 32GB, and high-performance NVMe storage. The M24T medical computer also has fanless cooling by way of heat pipes, it’s own internal speakers, and optional webcam and RFID. The medical computer has an uninterrupted power supply battery for up to 30 minutes of operation during a power loss event, and of course, is factory treated with an antimicrobial coating to ward off the spread of infection from bacteria or mold.

It’s easy to dismiss older technology as useless and disposable, but in the medical world, efficiency and consistency in the face of emergency situations often wins out over the new and questionable. Yes, strides are being made to upgrade older hospital systems to modern standards, but change in these sorts of environments can be slow. With so many devices still relying on legacy ports, it makes sense that medical computers still cater to their needs.

Is RFID Safe?

Is RFID Safe?

RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology has been found to generate considerable cost savings and increase efficiency in a variety of sectors like supply chain management, asset management, and information technology departments due to its ability to capture data without any human intervention.

 

Utilizing RFID in healthcare has been explored with great interest in recent years not only because of a legislative mandate to use new technology in healthcare, but for its potential to benefit patient safety, provide accurate patient and asset tracking, and enhance efficiencies in patient care. For example, RFID systems can identify medical staff, patients, medications, and blood sampling data all in real time.

 

The adoption of RFID in hospitals has been somewhat slow due to questions about data security, privacy, and concerns about radio frequency interruption due to older infrastructure in many facilities. However, apprehension about these risks largely stem from unfamiliarity with the technology and poor implementation strategies. These issues can be mitigated with in-depth analyses of risk/benefits, return on investment analyses, extensive testing prior to implementation, educating staff on the technology and its benefits, and taking steps for appropriate security measures to ensure patient privacy.

 

Tangent is well aware of the national mandate from the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Clinical Health) Act of 2015 to implement new health information technology and improve healthcare delivery. With that, they aim to stay at the forefront of technology that can be integrated into their medical devices.

medixt13

An excellent example is the Tangent Medix T13  medical tablet PC. This tablet is packed with a treasure trove of useful features for only being 13” inches. The enclosure is factory treated with a medical grade antimicrobial coating and is rated at an IP54 level of protection against contaminant or liquid ingress into the unit. The touchscreen is a PCAP multitouch, the computer’s Ultramobile processor can be an Intel Core i7, i5, or Celeron, and the unit has TPM 2.0 support.

 

The Medix medical tablet has a full-slot smart card reader and SD card readers. This allows for clocking in, secure logging in to the system, accepting payments and a great number of other uses with a card. An optional barcode scanner can allow for scanning of medications or patient wristbands. A  desktop charging cradle, wall and vehicle mounting accessories, and a handheld wrist strap for the T13 medical tablet provide numerous ways to interact with the device.

And keeping with the topic of this blog entry, an optional RFID reader in the T13 medical tablet allows hospital staff to identify, track, and retrieve data on most anything in the facility.

 

As hospitals and clinics are urged to adopt newer technologies by governing bodies, it’s important for providers to stay ahead of the curve on offering these features in their computing devices. Tangent’s mission is to provide medical care providers all the tools they need to give the best care and to stay up-to-date  with regulations and recommendations. When implemented correctly, technologies like RFID can create highly visible benefits to both patients and care facilities.

 

Antimicrobial Screens

The Antimicrobial Screen Advantage

Any surface can be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, and that is a particularly troubling fact when it comes to health compromised patients in hospitals. The CDC’s website states that about one in 31 hospital patients has at least one healthcare-associated infection.  Devices that are touched by both patients and doctors, like medical equipment and computers, can pose a significant risk of spreading contagions. Unlike a doorknob or a handrail, consumer computers and devices are sensitive to harsh cleaning and being exposed to liquids and abrasive cleaners.

 

Your standard LCD monitor is not protected against liquid ingress and will malfunction upon contact with it.  Luckily, antimicrobial surface treatment technology has become quite advanced and companies like Tangent are producing medical grade LCD monitors that are not only treated with antimicrobial coatings, they are also protected against water damage so that they may be appropriately cleaned in line with hospital regulations.

 

Antimicrobial surfaces mainly work to suppress the growth of bacteria and harmful microorganisms, and stop the spread of microbes. In addition to deterring bacteria, germs and molds, the coating also minimizes stains and degradation of plastic on the surfaces they are applied to. Antimicrobial agents come in a variety of types like chlorhexidine, ammonium compounds, and silver.  

Medical-Monitor

Tangent’s flagship 22 inch medical LCD monitor has a cast aluminum chassis, is factory treated with an antimicrobial additive to battle surface contamination, and is rated an an IP65 protection level against dust, cleaning liquids and water. Because of big initiatives to improve in sanitation, prevention, care quality, and overall awareness, data from CDC’s hospital healthcare-associated infection prevalence surveys show significant reductions in overall healthcare-associated infection prevalence and central line prevalence between 2011 and 2015. And speaking of the CDC, Tangent’s medical LCD monitor is EN60601-1 certified to be compliant with CDC guidelines for environmental infection control and isolation precautions.

 

This 22″ LED backlit medical LCD monitor features a 16:9 aspect ratio widescreen display, a PCAP 2-point touchscreen, and on screen display buttons for power, brightness, and auto tune. A variety of mounting options like point of care carts, movable arms, or desktop stands are possible with the VESA 75 mounting bracket. The Tangent medical LCD monitor also comes with integrated speakers, a feature not often seen on a monitor. With the success of antimicrobial agents on medical devices to help prevent the spread of pathogens in clinical settings, the technology is now being sought for use in a wider setting like businesses and homes. Wherever the demand may be, Tangent’s medical grade LCD monitor is up to the task.

himss19

Why the HIMSS Conference Matters

Medical practitioners have always sought to employ the best technology available to enhance their care and treatment of patients, but how do they go about learning what technology is available and specific to their field? From the development and testing of vaccines and drugs to ever-advancing medical equipment, information technology and healthcare go hand in hand, and that notion is especially promoted by a non-profit organization called HIMSS.

 

HIMSS aims to optimize healthcare through information technology by way of leadership, community building, information disbursement, driving public policy, professional and workforce development, and large events where members can learn and share ideas. HIMSS’ biggest event is their annual global conference and exhibition. For 2019, it is being held on February 11th through the 15th in Orlando, Florida. It is touted as the leading health information and technology conference, and will host around 45,000 professionals from over 90 countries to join in seminars, education, innovation and collaboration.

 

Topics at this year’s conference will include cybersecurity and privacy, patient engagement and digital health, health informatics education, interoperability, and innovation and venture investment. Outside of the conferences and seminars, the event will have over 1,300 health IT vendors in the exhibit hall.

 

Conferences and events of this nature are excellent sources of information regarding the importance of using top quality medical computer equipment and partnering with the right vendor to provide the best solutions. Tangent prides itself on being an award-winner solutions expert on medical equipment and services needs, both small and large.

 

Tangent representatives will be in attendance at the 2019 HIMSS Global Conference, and will be stationed in the exhibit hall at booth 3909, next to the Allscripts exhibit. The knowledgeable Tangent team will field questions pertaining to medical grade computing needs, cloud solutions, storage, and so much more. They can host demonstrations with sample products and provide guidance for general or customized needs. Visitors are encouraged to share their business’ challenges and requirements and see where Tangent can help them excel.