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.

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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.

 

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Computer Arm Mounts Increase Efficiency

Computer Arm Mounts Increase Efficiency

A medical charting station sounds like a pretty high end technical workstation, but for the longest time, it simply meant a wooden or metal cabinet or desk built into a wall of a clinical room that held physical medical charts. It was space efficient, yes, but hardly any wonder of modern discovery. They did think to put locks on them, so the old timers at least get points for patient privacy there. Once computers became cost effective and small enough, health facilities started cramming them into those cabinet work spaces whose openings strikingly resembled the seat-back tray tables on airlines. As quickly as they could, medical charting practices advanced onto sophisticated electronic medical records software platforms. Though the paper charts were a thing of the past, the computer systems that accessed the EMRs were about as flexible as having your laptop propped up on that airline tray table. The next evolution for the medical charting station is now the use of medical computer arms married with a folding IT station. Adjustability, dexterity, durability, and space efficiency create a winning combination that medical practices seek out in their medical computer equipment.

The Tangent Easy-Fold IT Station with medical computer arm offers its users customized configuration options to mount a flat panel display, keyboard and computer conveniently to a wall for maximum flexibility and ergonomic performance. The features on the medical arm system are numerous and impressive. The entire system easily folds back to less than 9 inches (22.9cm) from the wall and users can adjust from sitting to standing in one fluid motion. The adjustable arm helps to position the monitor and keyboard for maximum productivity for care providers who are on their feet all day and also to allow patients to see the screen without having to move or strain themselves. This has been helpful to me at the dentist’s office when they wanted to show me my x-rays while I had a suction tube in my numbed mouth. Better that they moved the monitor to my level, lest I haplessly drool all over their equipment. There is 17 inches of overall vertical adjustment range on the medical computer arm that can accommodate users of any height, and they can easily lock that adjusted computer height in place to avoid sudden movements or accidents. The monitor itself has 6.5 inches of independent height adjustment and the keyboard folds up to sit flush with the system when it’s pushed back to the wall.

More features include optional CPU mounts, VESA 75/100 mounting options, and trays for items like barcode scanners or computer mouses. The construction of the Tangent Easy-Fold IT station and medical arm is of durable aluminum and, being of medical grade, comes with a sealed keyboard tray for better infection control. Tangent protects most of their computer products with antimicrobial additives or constructs them to withstand heavy cleaning for patient safety and hospital compliance. Coupling a medical purpose built Tangent computer system with an IT workstation and medical arms of this nature provides a high degree of assurance in both safety and flexibility.

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A Firewall for Your Finger Tips

A Firewall for Your Finger Tips

We spend quite a bit of time discussing sanitation on medical computers and monitors, but we’d be remiss to not center some of the spotlight on the computer component that not only provides access to the system but also experiences most of the physical contact: the keyboard. In medical environments, the main objective of their operations is to improve patient health, but equally scrutinized is a facility’s ability to protect their patient’s private health information. Though it seems like the most expendable of peripherals, a medical grade keyboard can actually prove to be a major asset in both of those goals.

Tangent’s newest anti-microbial medical keyboard, the MEDKYB-011,  sets out to safeguard patients from infection and from data breaches.  First on the list of sanitary measures is that the keyboard is treated with an antimicrobial additive to prevent the spread of germs and contaminants. The medical keyboard also comes equipped with a cleaning switch which allows you to cut the power to the keyboard and thoroughly clean a disinfect it without causing any damage. With many hands and fingers touching the keyboard every day, it’s key to have a durable, long-lasting, and germ-free product. I’ve turned over numerous keyboards and watched in disgust as years old food crumbs and dirt came tumbling out from between the keys. This is absolutely unacceptable in a hospital environment.

Anti-microbial protection and the ability to be washed is where most medical keyboards finish in terms of special features. The Tangent MEDKYB-011 medical keyboard comes with analytical software that can provide data that most compliance officers would do backflips to be able to obtain. Hospitals will be able to know what keyboard was cleaned, who cleaned it, and when it was last cleaned. This can be achieved through monitoring logins, or to be even more compliance assured, the medical keyboard has an optional biometric fingerprint reader to log users in. There is also an option to add OneSign Secure Walk-Away software to work in conjunction with the medical keyboard and computer cameras for more effective and assured protected health information (PHI) and avoid a number if HIPAA violations.  In hectic, shared workstation settings, it can easily happen that hospital staff don’t check to see if someone else logged into their computer since they left it. This can lead to them charting under the wrong provider ID or on the wrong patients’ record. Also, if a medical care provider had to walk away from a workstation in an emergency, a patient’s personal information is left up on the screen for anyone to copy down. It’s easy to see what a disaster that could turn into.

The Secure Walk-Away application provides user tracking to identify an authenticated user in front of the computer and will automatically lock the system upon their departure, providing instant re-authentication when they return. This saves on so much time and removes the stress of having to remember to log in and out of the workstation, which is huge for any care provider with an already stressful workload. Tangent looks at a hospital processes and pain points, and targets its products to improve medical user’s experience, enhance workflows, and protect patients. The best and most reliable technology goes into each offering, even into its medical keyboards.

 

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An Ideal Medical Computer for Mobile POC

An Ideal Medical Computer for Mobile POC

 

A common technology feature encountered in most medical facilities is the mobile point of care (POC) cart. In an effort to provide efficient and accurate care and response rates in areas that are often short on space, carts were fitted with casters and small form factor medical computers to allow staff to have the convenience of in-room patient data access without the cost and headache of installing a computer in each exam room. As smaller all-in-one computers became more commonplace, the carts have been able to be fitted to be even more lightweight, customizable, and stable. Point of care carts are usually employed to administer medical tests, but medical carts are also generally used for a variety of medical applications like medication distribution, anesthesia or IV dosage, rapid code response, bedside care, and more.

With such varied requirements for mobile care within a medical space, it’s necessary to have a versatile medical grade industrial computer that can answer to those needs. Tangent’s C-series medical computers are a prime example of technological prowess, compliance with sanitation standards, and modularity. The casing is factory treated with an antimicrobial additive to deter surface contamination and prevent mold and bacterial buildup, helping keep patients free of infection. The IP65 rated front panel of the medical computer can be sprayed and wiped with cleaning solutions without damaging the enclosure or internals. The computer is shielded from electrical frequency leakage making it safe to be used in close proximity to a patient and won’t interfere with other sensitive medical equipment. These safeguards have earned the C-series medical computer a medical 60601 certification.

Medical carts and related apparatus come in a variety of sizes, and in response, the C-series comes with standard VESA mounting. They can be installed on carts, arms, or used with the optional stand as a desktop device. So too, the screens of the C-series medical computers are available in 17 inch, 19 inch, 22 inch, and 24 inch widescreen PCAP touch true flat-front panel sizes. The versatility is also shown in the available Intel 6th Gen Core i5 or i7 processor, the one or two terabyte hard drive, or the unbelievable 132GB of memory that could potentially be packed in. Yes, that figure is correct – 132GB of memory! Computing power like that means one could run several instances of any resource heavy application and never crash. The systems are built to run 24-7 and even have a battery backup in case of power interruption. It is so important that no data isl be lost if the power suddenly cuts out.  

The primary function of medical carts is to be highly mobile, which certainly requires a degree of cable free use. The C-series industrial medical computers have available Intel wireless and Bluetooth. Mobility invariably includes lots of shaking and vibration, which can be hazardous to normal computer systems with moving parts. Not only is the Tangent medical grade computer lineup shock and vibration resistant, it also is available with a fanless option. This greatly extends the life of the PC, and also ensures that it doesn’t circulate dusty air in a medical setting. Medical carts have a multitude of important purposes, and so Tangent’s medical computers can be customized to suit each unique setting.

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The Surgical Environment and Noise-free Computers: A Complimentary Pair

 

Tangent’s fanless medical computers contain advanced cooling technology and SSD storage providing noise-free operation. While a silent computer is convenient and desirable, there are specific environments where the noise-free feature is not just a nice commodity, but also a requisite. This article covers the applications of noise-free computers in surgical environments.

 

Operating Rooms: Medical industries are highly dynamic environments filled with technological devices and people. Reducing noise pollution is a continuous common goal that improves the flow of the medical workplace. While silent devices are needed throughout health facilities, none is more important than the operating room, which carries with it the reputation of irrefutable respect- with reason.

Operation outcomes can be the determining factor of life or death. Open-heart surgery, liver transplants, and intestine transplants are just a few high-stake procedures that occur in the OR. Surgeon concentration is of utmost importance as is that of the entire OR team, often comprised of nurses, surgical technicians and anesthesiologists.

While music has proven to increase workflow by setting a nice pace and easing the tension of the surgical environment, distractions must be kept to a minimum. Unnecessary, obtrusive noise has no place in surgical environments and thus is why silent computers make the list of must-haves in them.

Post-Operative Patient Care: While the act of performing surgery is the high-pressured climax of a surgical environment, proper post-operative care is vital to ensure the hard work performed during surgery is successful. Sleep and rest assist to ensure proper post-operative healing. Among the concerns of post-operative patients, sensitivity to light, sound and smells top the list. So while proper functioning computers hold insurmountable value to patient care both in and out of surgery, the ability to do so silently shares equal merit.

Tangent noise-free computers are the perfect pair for the surgical environment delivering silent operation and optimizing sterility. Fanless in design, noise-free computers maintain a sterile environment because the elimination of a fan prevents the circulation of dust particles and airborne debris. The ventless enclosure of our noise-free, fanless computers means zero maintenance ensuring the surgical team can focus on what matters most: patient care.

 

 

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The Significance of Anti-Microbial Keyboards and Mice

The Significance of Antimicrobial         Keyboards and Mice

Medical grade keyboards and mice are the gateway to secure, sterile, high-quality healthcare.

Healthcare computers, carts and tablets receive significant credit in the way they have improved healthcare environments producing more efficiency, sterility and better quality service. Nevertheless, as the adage states: a castle can only stand as strong as its foundation. Medical grade keyboards and mice are imperative foundational supporting accessories that must be on par with the other foreground components in order to sustain a superior work environment.

Hands: The gateway to healthcare professionals and their patients. Study after study demonstrates that hands are one of the leading causes in the spread of germs. We teach the importance of clean hands since childhood because if there is anything we have learned from historical plagues to modern day epidemics, sterile hands are paramount to the prevention of spreading disease. Proper hand hygiene is crucial in any healthcare department, let alone workplace. Therefore, the technological tools that hands most come into contact hold insurmountable importance.

While the healthcare industry improves with the incorporation of technological products, in order to maintain the most hygienic and exemplary health environment, medical grade keyboards and mice, the accessories, must meet high quality standards as well.

GATEWAY ACCESSORIES

 Medical grade keyboards and mice are referred to as gateway accessories as they are the channels through which germs and viruses are spread or NOT. At Tangent, all our medical grade keyboards and accompanying mice are SilverShield™ antimicrobial and SealShield ™ waterproof. This translates to fully washable medical grade keyboards and mice. Protect your healthcare workplace to the highest caliber by selecting premium grade healthcare accessories.

To view our medical grade keyboard and mice inventory, follow this link:

https://www.tangent.com/healthcare/antimicrobial-keyboards or click HERE