medical computers

Mobile Phone vs Medical Tablet: What’s Best in Healthcare?

Technology you encounter at hospitals can be a tad confusing or funny at times. You see million dollar state-of-the-art scanners and treatment machines, but then you also see a doctor walk by with a 90s style pager clipped to their pocket.

 

The reason for this is that they both suit their purpose best. The most up-to-date scanners do a better job of identifying anomalies and areas of concern, and the old pagers have a longer battery life and better signal strength than cell phones can get in hospitals. You also see hospital staff roaming around with medical tablets more often than mobile phones, although one would think that mobile phones do just as much for cheaper.

 

However, there’s quite a bit of thought that goes into the tablets used by medical professionals.

Most standard mobile phones like the iPhone are created for general consumer use for normal daily activities like making calls, using the internet, or taking photos. Medical grade tablets are designed specifically for use in healthcare facilities.

 

For example, the Tangent Medix T13 has a magnesium chassis that makes it 33% lighter than aluminum and offers high impact resistance. The surface of the medical tablet is treated with an antimicrobial surface that prevents the growth and/or spread of infection and germs, and it also keeps the enclosure material from degrading over time. You’re not likely to see a feature like that on a regular mobile device. Mobile phones are also susceptible to water damage even from minor contact with it. The T13 medical tablet is rated at an IP65 level of protection from dust, water, or contaminant intrusion into the computer. Mobile phone design is meant to be sleek and aesthetically pleasing to the consumer eye, but without a good case and screen protector, they are not long for this world. Tangent’s medical tablets are constructed with a rugged design that has good grip and protected against vibration and shocks from short drops.

 

The internals of the devices also have quite a few notable differences. While a mobile device’s battery can be recharged within an hour or so, hospital staff simply can’t wait that long. Tangent’s T13 medical tablet has hot-swappable batteries that can be switched out while maintaining continuity in power. That is a huge thing for patient care, and a big reason why many still carry those old pagers to get quick notifications. If you know Apple, then you know that they don’t customize their product or allow for repairs, even replacing the battery when it’s bad.  Tangent enjoys offering accessories and options on their products that best suits the needs of their clients. On the outside, the T13 has a kickstand and a hand strap for easy mobility and visibility. Inside, they offer a barcode scanner and/or RFID for asset tracking or locating patients. The details make everything about a medical tablet, which is why medical facilities invest in what works best for them.

 

medical computers

Doing A Whole Lot With Very Little (Computers)

To most hourly employees, the work time clock is an annoying, but necessary evil. To payroll departments, it’s the most essential tool in the galaxy. And to IT departments, it’s something that needs to be available in lots of places around the company floor but also, out of the way. Most modern time clock stations are comprised of a touchscreen monitor, a badge card swiper, and some sort of computer system. In the spirit of space saving, many opt for a small form factor computer that sits on the back of the monitor but there are even more steps that can be taken to have a system that is reliable, long-lasting, practically imperceptible, and industrial quality. We all know that it quickly becomes nightmare when people can’t clock in and out. Tangent’s rugged, industrial mini computers are the perfect fit for such an application, especially if they need to accommodate even more functionality and environments harsher than a corporate office.  

The Tangent Rugged Mini Q industrial mini computer is considered an ultra mini form factor and comes with a surprising amount of features despite its diminutive size. The industrial mini computer has fanless cooling and mSATA solid state drive storage. Without any fans or moving disks to wear out and fail, the computer will have a longer usable lifespan and 24/7 uptime. This is key to applications that need to be at the ready at all times. An optional wireless card and antennas allow for fewer cables running to the system, which is great for kiosks that are wall mounted. At less than 5 inches in length and a weight of 1.35lbs, this ultra mini computer will barely be noticeable anywhere it is installed or mounted.

Rugged Mini Computer
Rugged Mini S

For a mini form factor industrial computer with a little more processing punch, the Rugged Mini S has an Intel 6th Generation Core series processor, Intel HD Graphics card, and up to 32GB of ram. Instead of just a time clock, you can have several other apps running like Office for shared calendars and email, perhaps guest check-in and forms software, office directories, or flash games for young clients in waiting rooms. Like the Rugged Q, this industrial grade mini computer system is also fan and disc free, can connect to wifi and be tucked away seamlessly behind a mounted monitor. And this is just two examples of the types of things that mini computers can do, and two of many types of mini computers that Tangent offers. From mundane repetitive tasks to processor heavy tasks, there’s an ultra mini industrial computer that can readily comply for many years.

A Medical Grade Family of Products

Medical Grade Family of Products

Integrating technology into hospital workflows has been massively transformational to a great many health care systems and providers.  An article from Healthcare IT News discusses how a hospital in New York was able to leverage technology to monitor patients and reduce transfers to the ICU by 63%. Staff at Saratoga Hospital were taking patients’ vital signs that were manually logged into the electronic health record to be assessed by nurses. This manual process made it slow and difficult for nurses to identify flags that a patient was deteriorating and needed intervention. Because of this, many patient’s states were degrading to the point of needing to go to the ICU. Through the use of the newly installed patient monitors, data was input directly into the EHR, reviewed by nurses with far more efficiency, and care was provided in a much more timely manner. With that, patient transfers to the ICU plummeted.

Patient monitors can come in a variety of applications and installations. Quite often you will see a mobile cart or a retractable swing arm on the patient’s room wall. In work areas, the PCs can be mounted directly onto the wall for ease of use in small offices. Mountable industrial PCs are versatile, modular, and powerful machines for both hospital and industrial settings. Tangent takes a holistic approach to providing whole project solutions for mountable industrial PC setups; they offer a variety of both industrial and medical computers, and mounting options for them to suit the unique requirements encountered at each patient care facility. Tangent offers easy fold IT stations, arm workstation systems, variable height mounting solutions, and monitor arms that can handle dual monitors. Tangent’s cart solutions range from top of the line, smartly featured, inductive charging mobile workstations, to lightweight, uncomplicated stands. Each product is tested to be durable, reliable, and versatile.

 

Medix C24 Medical Computer
Medix C24 Medical Computer

For hospital environments, a medical grade mountable PC is perfect to help ward off infection and provide features clinical settings most often desire. The C-series from Tangent ranges from 17” to 24”. With VESA mounting options, they can be installed on most any carts, arms, walls, or used with an optional stand as a desktop device. The same type of mounting options are available for many of Tangent’s industrial grade PCs. The computer in a clean room doesn’t need an antimicrobial coating as with the PCs in patient areas, it needs to be able to be washed with solutions and hot water for complete sterilization. Be it with patient monitoring systems or with automating hospital inventories, replacing manual processes with streamlined tech solutions is proven to create drastic improvements in safety, patient care stats, and efficiency.

 

There’s Small, and Then There’s Mini

Picture a small desktop computer in your mind. Even today, they are fair sized rectangular boxes that take up a considerable amount of space on the desk or underneath it. Now picture a mini PC… Is it just a tad smaller than the desktop? With Tangent’s line of industrial rugged mini PCs, you’d have to imagine quite a bit to approach the reality of their diminutive size and the fact that they are still full featured PCs.

rugged mini PC

Tangent’s Rugged Mini O PC is a fascinating little computer with a fully stainless steel and waterproof housing that is rated at an IP69K.  Because of its threaded sealed ports, external devices plugged into the ports will not introduce water or dust into the unit. The mini PC also has plugs for the ports when they are not being utilized to ensure protection from water and contaminants. A solid state drive and passive fanless cooling technology make the mini PC a perfect candidate for work areas that require extremely sanitary conditions, areas where dirt or high moisture is common, or any industrial environment where space or contamination is a concern. It’s a great PC for places like the Los Amigos Biological Station in the jungles of the Amazon in Peru, or even at an outdoor venue in Hilo, Hawaii where rain is a near daily occurrence.

RUGGED MINI

For those needing a computer in the most compact of spaces, the Rugged  Mini L2 PC is one of the slimmest of them all. This super mini PC weighs a paltry amount at just over five pounds, with a thickness of just 1.3 inches. It can easily be mounted underneath a desk, in a luxury car, on industrial vehicles, in AV closets for conferences rooms, and anywhere that has limited room but still requires a reliable and durable computer.  Even with it’s tiny size, the L2 mini PC still manages to provide 12 I/O ports including 3 display ports and 4 USB ports. The PC can accommodate wireless internet access, 16GB of memory, 2TB of storage and has shock and vibration resistance. It’s hard to believe all of these features fits in such a small computer.

Rugged Mini E3

So the Mini O is great for those needing a water tight system, and the L2 is a perfect fit in tight spaces, but what about extreme temperature environments like the cold of the frozen north or the heat of the desert?  The Rugged Mini E2 PC was constructed to easily withstand extreme temperatures from -40°F to 158°F. Protection for -40°F may seem like overkill, but just this year, those temperatures were recorded in the high north of Minnesota and Wisconsin, and that’s a normal winter temperature in very remote places like Grise Fjord, Nunavut, Canada. The temperature rating makes sense in a place like that, but what benefits would a mini PC have there? The housing in Grise Fjord is quite sparse and small; even the airport is considered more of a shelter than a terminal, so aviation and computer equipment all have to be as compact as possible. In our world and in business, there are a great variety of environments that require specialized equipment to survive and succeed.

coMING OF AGE

Coming of Age of a Medical Computer

Coming of Age of a Medical Computer

 

In the 1990s, the term “medical computer” didn’t mean much more than a PC in a doctor’s office, or computers set up specifically for order entry, medical database access, or patient surveys. The equipment itself wasn’t anything special or purpose built for the medical field. Nowadays, a medical grade computer is expected to provide clinical resources, constant uptime, and also protect patients and staff from the spread of infection. Mobile clinical carts use medical panel PCs for in-room patient care, staff use tablets to put in patient meal orders or pharmacy orders, and even the LCD monitors are of a certified medical grade.

 

Modern CDC guidelines require that medical computers be UL/IEC60601-1 certified after in-depth testing for safe use near patients, other medical equipment, and performance compliance. Antimicrobial coatings on medical computers have the capability to kill or inhibit the growth of microbes on their surface or surrounding environment. The antimicrobial agents are formulated for low toxicity, minimal environmental problems, and prolonged lifetime of the computer components the agent is applied to. Tangent’s medical computers are not only 60601 certified and antimicrobial, they are also IP rated to prevent ingress of water or contaminants. The Medix C24 medical computer has an IP65 front panel. It’s also loaded with I/O ports and mounting options so that it can be used for carts, arms, desktops, or anywhere it’s needed.

 

In addition to being suited to safety and sanitation needs, medical grade computers have to stay at the forefront of technological advances in order to serve ever-changing clinical requirements and advances. As soon as touchscreen technology became widely available, they started being integrated into medical devices and hospital workflows. Tangent’s M24T medical computer offers PCAP multi-touch, up to 32GB of memory, Intel Core processors, advanced graphics capabilities, and a built-in webcam. Why is a webcam important?  Telemedicine or “virtual visit” doctor appointments have become a popular alternative to in-person visits. Patients can conduct live video chats with a doctor 24-7 via web meetings. The M24T medical computer also has a UPS battery backup. If a doctor is meeting with a patient and the power goes out, the meeting can still proceed uninterrupted. Tangent’s computers are also validated to work well with popular EMR software packages like Cerner or Epic.

 

Medical computers have come a long way over the decades; they are safer, sturdier, more secure, and reliable than ever. Tangent’s industrial and medical PCs have far too many features to mention in one article, but they are all built to provide the most utility, versatility and value to its users.

 

Medical Computer Excellence

5 Ways Medical Computers Excel over Consumer PCs

5 Ways Medical Computers Excel over Consumer PCs

 

There’s a good reason why the healthcare field is one of the most heavily regulated industries with the most oversight. When it comes to patient care, painstaking efforts are necessary to protect everyone at a medical facility including staff and visitors. Everything including medical equipment needs to meet strict criteria in order to be certified for hospital use from the spread of contagion and harmful pathogens. The following list elaborates on just a few of the features that really set a true medical computer apart from your standard consumer PC.

 

  1. Antimicrobial Coating

Antimicrobial protection on medical computer surfaces is achieved with additives that are baked right into the plastic of the enclosure. These additives have been proven to have long-lasting effectiveness in combating fungi, bacteria, molds and spreadable pathogens. Both the casing & screen of the Tangent’s medical computers have antimicrobial material which prevents germs from growing, lowering patient infection rates. Proper cleaning of the computer equipment helps prevent MRSA, CDIFF, and Hepatitis from growing and spreading. The antimicrobial coating also has the added benefit of minimizing odors, staining, and degradation of  the surfaces where it is applied.

     2. UL/IEC60601-1 Certification

Having a UL/IEC60601-1 Certification demonstrates that a medical computer has been rigorously tested and guaranteed to be protected from electrical frequency leakage, making it safe for use near patients and staff. The medical computer’s certification also indicates that it is shielded and will not interfere with other sensitive medical equipment in the vicinity.

     3. Smart Card Readers, RFID,  Barcode Scanners, Etc

Tangent’s medical computer line has a variety of options that provide many benefits to the clinical work space. An in-system smart card reader allows for secure login and user identification, as well as accept credit card payments. Bar code scanners are great for quickly scanning patient wristbands and medication for either checking in, checking out, or tracking inventory of hospital assets. RFID also provides a fast and easy way to track assets or locate people or equipment within a facility.  Having accessories like these built into a medical computer saves on time and cuts down on wires and attachments that can be lost or stolen.

    4. Hot Swap Batteries/Internal Batteries

Disaster recovery is a main staple of a medical facility’s preparedness package. When there’s a power outage, patient’s lives can be at risk. Hot swappable batteries in some of Tangent’s medical computers can provide up to 10.5 hours of runtime without any interruption. This can be a literal lifesaver during periods of severe power loss.

    5. Fanless Operation

Longevity, reliability, and strong performance are requisite of any medical computer. An excellent advance for computer technology was the introduction of the fanless computer. With no moving fan parts, the system has fewer components that can wear out and fail. In addition to that, a fanless system will not collect dust and contaminants inside of it or blow it around in the air. People with sensitive systems or allergies certainly appreciate that.  

Fanless Computer

No Dust Bunnies This Easter…

No Dust Bunnies This Easter…

 

Finding dust build up inside a fan-cooled computer is like finding traffic in LA. It’s always there no matter how much you try to avoid it. Thousands of hours of fan-driven air movement and electrostatic charges make the internals of a PC or laptop a prime dust magnet. From a functional perspective, collected dust, dirt, hair and debris sucked into the computer can cause overheating by insulating vital components and blocking vents. When intake vents get clogged up, the exhaust fans will pull air through every other hole in the case, eventually clogging them with dust and fuzz particles as well.

 

What does all this dust being circulated around mean for the world outside the computer? Anyone with allergies knows that it means an absolutely miserable day. In a work or hospital setting, the amount of lint and filth floating around from computer fans can be potentially harmful, especially to those experiencing compromised health situations. So how does one ensure better air quality and clean PC internals when considering computer systems for an office? An industrial or medical grade fanless computer from Tangent will absolutely hit that mark.

 

Most every computer that Tangent produces operates completely fanless and without any moving parts. Fanless cooling is achieved through conduction, or passive cooling, techniques along with processing components that give off less heat.  Modern CPUs can run with less power than before and at a cooler rate. Solid state hard drives have no moving parts and therefore are immensely cooler than standard disc hard drives. The LED backlit LCDs on the fanless computers also have low power consumption and heat output, and the cast aluminum or stainless steel chassis casings absorb any internal heat and dissipates it like a heat sink. Fanless computers save on power, reduce all computer noise, and do not circulate dust and contaminants.

Fanless Industrial Computer
Fanless F15 Industrial Computer

Tangent’s professional fanless computer lines, the medical grade T, C, and E series, or the industrial grade KW and S series are the culmination of decades of advances in technology to reduce power consumption, increase speed, maximize durability and reliability, and provide a safe, clean working environment for its users. So much effort has gone into packing Tangent’s fanless computers with tons of features and options while still ensuring that they won’t overheat or fail. Many consumer grade PCs and laptops are moving towards a fanless model, but unless high quality components and construction are employed, as with industrial grade computers, there’s no guarantee for performance or longevity.

 

The Difference Between a Panel PC and a Tablet

The Difference Between a Panel PC and a Tablet

 

An industrial grade touchscreen panel PC may have many of the same features as a tablet, but its purpose is to provide an incredibly durable, impenetrable, fast, and powerful computer system that will last for many years.  Tangent offers four lines of industrial panel PCs to meet business needs ranging from elegant office spaces to extremely harsh environments to the open air outdoors. How is this sort of longevity achieved? For one, industrial touchscreen panel PCs are constructed with materials that are much stronger and resistant to wear than a consumer grade computer. Second, Tangent’s panel PCs (for the most part) are completely fanless and have no moving internal parts that can wear out and fail. Tangent’s panel PCs also go through rigorous testing to ensure that the temperature and enclosure protection rating given to it is accurate. In the performance category, an industrial touchscreen panel PC is a full-fledged computer system with the same type of hardware capacity as many high end desktop solutions, far outweighing the capacity of any tablet.

 

The tastefully classic and clean looking  KW series of Tangent’s panel PC gives any space a professional look, yet this system is much more robust than appearances can tell. The chassis is cast aluminum and has a protection rating of IP65 against water or dust ingress into the internals. Because of this rating, the computer can be wiped down throughout the day if needed. The panel PC also has versatile VESA mounting options, so it can be placed nearly anywhere. It works well in a number of capacities like as an informational kiosk in high traffic areas or a front desk computer for answering phones using touchscreen interfaces.

Flat Panel PCs

The incredibly sturdy and resilient S series of industrial panel PCs are perfect for the most harsh of working conditions. They are well suited to food processing plants, grimey industrial factories, farms, heavy weather stations, and anywhere else where a standard consumer computer will not survive. The S series are rated at an IP69K level of protection, which guarantees the internals are safe from the use of high pressure, hot water jets on the enclosure, cleaning solutions, and any sort of contaminate intrusion.  These industrial touchscreen panel PCs are housed with corrosion resistance stainless steel, are shock and vibration resistant, and have sunlight readable screens with UV coating. Not only is the S series panel PC fanless, but like the other offerings from Tangent, it’s has best-in-class integrated media and graphics performance backed by Intel Core processors.

 

It doesn’t take much to see that an industrial panel PC is so much more than just a big tablet. The more you look, the more that will surprise you in such an unassuming package.

medical grade computer

3 Essential Features of Medical Computers

3 Essential Features of Medical Computers

 

“Medical grade computer” isn’t a label you can slap on anything off the shelf. Understandably, there are stringent regulations around what can be considered a safe computer component for use around patients in healthcare environments or in highly sanitary conditions. Medical computers are designed to be installed in a variety of areas in a hospital or care center like medical stations and carts, wall mounted arms, or even patient lobbies, and they often have features like barcode scanners, internal batteries, or card readers to further provide desirable clinical utility. The following are three major requirements to be considered a medical computer.

EN60601-certified

UL/IEC60601-1 Certification

This certification is granted when a medical electrical device undergoes and successfully passes testing for safety and performance compliance with CDC guidelines for environmental infection control, electric shock prevention, and isolation precautions. It is a guarantee of reliability and assurance that the medical computer won’t cause harm to clinical staff or patients. Tangent’s line of medical computers have all been thoroughly tested and certified.

 

IP Rating, International Protection Marking

The IP rating of a mechanical casing and/or electrical enclosure classifies and rates the degree of protection it provides against intrusion by any number of external forces. The ratings list specific foreign objects and water pressure forces that the enclosure of the device is effective against. Most of Tangent’s medical computers are sealed and protected with an IP65 rating. This indicates that the medical computer is dust tight and ingress of any foreign particle will not occur. The IP65 rating also means that the device can safely be sprayed down with water jets from a nozzle. Thus, the medical computer can be sanitized with cleansers and water and will not harbor any contaminants or dust, which is crucial for clinical settings.

antimicrobial

Antimicrobial Protection

Tangent’s medical grade computers are manufactured with antimicrobial agents embedded in the enclosure. The antimicrobial agent in the medical computer’s plastic is necessary to address patient and medical staff safety by preventing surface contamination and the spread of harmful pathogens, germs, or mold spores. Infection control initiatives are some of the top priorities in hospitals, making antimicrobial treatment incredibly important for computer equipment that is touched by many people and could transmit bacteria or other organisms to health compromised patients.

 

industrial LCD touchscreen monitors

Industrial LCD Touchscreen Monitors for Self Service

Industrial LCD Touchscreen Monitors for Self Service

 

The use of industrial grade LCD touchscreen monitors have been commonplace for well over a decade, but their appeal and ease-of-use is prompting an even wider expansion of implementation to most everywhere in daily life. In the food and beverage industry, Panera Bread reported in 2016 that 60 percent of its lunchtime transactions are completed on touchscreen terminals, and other big chain restaurants like Wendy’s and McDonald’s are quickly adopting this self serve method at their locations as well. If you visit any Buffalo Wild Wings, you’ll be greeted by a self-service ordering and entertainment kiosk at your table. Allowing customers to order and customize their own meal orders on LCD kiosks without waiting in lines and at their own pace has not only seen improvements in accuracy and satisfaction, but it also allows the retailer to unobtrusively offer additional items to add on to the meal. Having some entertainment built in also keeps customers engaged and happy while they wait on their food.

Most every casino has industrial touchscreen gambling at every seat that isn’t forded by a live dealer, and soon enough, deluxe seats at sporting events will have small kiosks to order from wait staff. We use industrial touchscreen LCD monitors to check in our luggage at the airport, get directions and information in stores, and to fill out forms at doctor’s offices. A Forrester study found that 74 percent of consumers who have used an in-store kiosk reported it was useful to them.

 

These industrial LCD monitors go through unbelievable amounts of wear and tear on a daily basis and are expected to hold up for years of continued twenty four operation. As the technology for sensitivity and accuracy of the touchscreens have improved over the years, so has the effort to create durable, rugged, and long lasting industrial grade LCD monitors to withstand both daily pummeling and environmental or temperature changes. High quality industrial LCD monitors are built with a stainless steel or cast aluminum chassis that is highly protected against any liquid or contaminant intrusion. The enclosures are often rated at an IP66 or higher and can withstand directed sprays of water, spilt drinks on the gambling or dinner table, oils from hundreds of finger touches, and food splatters. The protection on an industrial LCD monitor is also rated at a NEMA 4 or better, ensuring addition protection against corrosion and external formation of ice on the enclosure. The wiles of weather and temperatures are kept at bay by the protected enclosure, offering a range of safe operation from -4 – 140°F (-20 – 60°C).

 

The touchscreen display on an industrial LCD monitor is typically either 4 or 5-Wire resistive touch or PCAP capacitive multi-touch. Different levels of brightness are available on industrial LCD monitors depending on whether it needs to be daylight readable or sunlight readable. When a kiosk is outdoors, it’s extremely important that the screen be readable in the sunlight and that the screen will not experience burning from direct UV sunlight. There’s a lot that goes into the construction of a high quality industrial LCD monitor, but the pace of life and the adoption of kiosks and touchscreens everywhere demands it. As consumers get more and more used to using them, businesses and retailers won’t be able to afford downtime on their computer systems. With something as handled as often as the touchscreen monitors are, cheap alternatives are just not a viable answer.