healthcare data security

The Importance of Security and Medical Grade Hardware

On May 14th, Simon Pope, a director at the Microsoft Security Response Center, wrote a blog post urging users of older Windows operating systems to install security patches on their computers and take steps to secure themselves from a known vulnerability that could be exploited and result in worm infections and/or cyber attacks. The remote code execution vulnerability was discovered in the Remote Desktop Services on versions older than Windows 8. This warning arises from the lessons of the 2017 “WannaCry” ransomware attack. Those attacks were highly destructive even though a Windows security patch for it had been available for months. WannaCry affected thousands of computers worldwide, bringing down hospital networks and causing the cancellation of over 19,000 medical appointments.

It seems incredible that a hospital’s IT staff would overlook such crucial updates, but it’s an unfortunate reality for many medical companies. Another problem is that many facilities don’t upgrade their hardware often enough to be able to run newer versions of Windows, and much of their computer inventory is not of a medical grade. Cost and budget constraints tend to be the reason for lack of security or hardware updates, but as seen with the WannaCry attack, the results can be more catastrophic to a hospital and its ability to service patients.

medical grade computers

Tangent offers thirteen different types of medical grade computers that can be customized to suit the needs of any medical facility. A multi-year analysis of cost and return on investment will reveal that having up-to-date technology and safety measures will end up saving more for the hospital. With Tangent’s medical grade fanless touchscreen computers, one can be confident that infection and contaminants will not be spread amongst patients from the hospital’s computer equipment. The enclosures are protected from water ingress so that they may be disinfected thoroughly. Many are equipped with hot-swappable batteries or UPS internal batteries for continuous use of the system even during power outages. The medical computers are also equipped with the latest version of Windows to help keep the operating systems and data as safe as possible. The list of available options is truly impressive and allows hospitals to find the right fit for their requirements and budget, while also ensuring that they are doing everything they can to prevent cyber attacks and downtime.

cardiac arrest medical monitoring

Every Minute Counts with Cardiac Arrest

When cardiac incidents occur in a hospital, every minute that passes can be a factor in whether the patient survives or not. According to Heart.org, in 2016, only about 25 percent of U.S. patients survived when their hearts stopped in a hospital. With how busy medical staff are and the amount of alerts going off all the time, it often happens that a crucial one goes unnoticed for some time. For many hospital systems, the answer to this is to employ Central Monitoring Units (CMU). A CMU consists of nurses and clinicians at a remote site that watch patient vital signs on a computer and call hospital staff if they notice potential emergency situations like the onset of ventricular tachycardia. The end goal is give front-line hospital staff notice of serious cardiac events an hour or more before they happen. This is a challenging objective since the process is heavily reliant on medical technicians to identify key signals from massive data streams on hundreds of patients. However, even the short amount of notice they are able to give has been life saving in many cases already.

Fast data analysis and response from a remote clinician is possible only with fast medical computers to aid their efforts. A medical grade computer like Tangent’s E24B offers the performance, safety, and uptime required for a crucial job of this nature. Its 24” monitor with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 allows for many monitors and applications to be displayed clearly to the medical technician, and the projected capacitive touchscreen makes working between application screens quick and efficient. The medical computer has an impressive 32GB of available memory, solid state drives, and is powered by the latest in Intel Core technology. One can be assured that many applications will  run at once without freezing or crashing. Continuous operation is paramount for staff monitoring patient cardiac activity, and so the E24B computer is designed with 3x hot-swappable batteries in case of power outages or if the station needs to be moved.

Medical Computer CMU

Advances in artificial intelligence will be the next step in improving monitoring and identifying patients in danger, but the human component will likely always be necessary in that process. A trained technician is important for providing the expertise and experience to make a judgement call. AI may certainly attain a human level of aptitude for patient monitoring, but for now medical computers best shine as a reliable support and data gathering tool. With enough ingenuity and creative use of technology, hospitals will be able to push that 25% cardiac arrest survival rate up much higher.  

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.

 

3D4CE3AA-C461-435D-B321-38FB1A362B25

One-Stop Patient Billing and Scheduling

One-Stop Patient Billing and Scheduling

 

A big part of a medical office’s interaction with patients involves scheduling and billing for their services. It’s not the most glamourous position to have and largely goes unnoticed, but it’s an extremely important role since medical schedulers and billers are the ones that ensure patients and insurance companies are charged accurately, are scheduled for important services, and that patients are reminded about their upcoming appointments. They keep medical practices in business and patients on time. For smaller practices, this role tends to fall on a small number of people running the front office doing intake for arriving patients, taking phone calls, receiving direction from doctors and nurse staff, and running around to provide medical records to staff as well. It can be a hectic set of expectations to fulfill, so organization and efficiency is key for a practice to run smoothly and on schedule. On the top of the list for maintaining an organized, successful business is having the right tools that not only meet it’s required functionality, but are also reliable, fast, and easy to use.

A medical tablet is a great way to integrate all of a medical front office’s needs into one convenient, flexible and cost efficient package. The Tangent M7 7” touchscreen is an excellent entry level medical tablet that allows staff to schedule and check in patients, scan barcodes on files or wrist bands, readily accept card payments and retrieve information from the internet all while being completely mobile. The tablet device can connect to wifi and bluetooth so that staff can actively work anywhere in the facility, especially with the handy strap on the back. An optional docking station is also available for stationary use and charging.

For a larger and more robust industrial grade tablet, the R10 10” tablet makes all-in-one computing seem effortless. With many of the same features as the M7, the R10 kicks it all up a notch with an Intel 3rd Gen Core i7 processor, a 480GB SSD hard drive, and 8GB of memory. The noticeably sturdy and rugged casing has been tested and proven to safeguard the medical tablet from falls, vibration and shaking. The optional combo data input accessory offers smart card, MSR (magnetic stripe reader), and fingerprint readers for easy access to the system and easy check out for patients. A fast check in and check out is so essential for keeping a patient flow in and out of the office steady and happy. My dentist’s office is staffed by some wonderful people but their payment machine is embarrassingly slow, they have paper files for each patient still, and a few computer systems that don’t appear to be linked to each other. I can’t imagine what a pain it must be to track all of that, and to do it largely manually. With the variety of medical tablets offered by Tangent, a patient-centric practice can be transformed into a streamlined workflow dream. They offer tablets from seven to thirteen inches to suit any desktop space, and have a wide variety of options amongst them to meet the unique business requirements of demanding medical operations, including billing and scheduling.

fanless

Fanless Computers: Still Running Cool!

Fanless Computers: Still running cool!

 

Making a computer with a single fan is good engineering, making them fanless is an art. TANGENT offers fanless computers which are reliable and robust to meet your demanding requirements of ruggedness and performance.

What are major problems with the fans that require us to build fanless computers?

  • Noise: Fans produce noise during normal operation. As the installed system becomes older, the fan becomes nosier. In some applications, noise above a certain level is unacceptable.
  • Maintenance: Fans suck in dirt and clog the filters. This requires frequent cleaning of filters. In certain embedded systems, access to the computer for maintenance is not feasible. Problem of choking of filters exacerbates if the computer in installed in a dusty environment.
  • Failure: A fan is a moving part, with an electric motor. This can fail, resulting in overheating of the computer and eventual system shutdown or even total system failure.

Fanless computer eliminates these problems completely. The computer becomes quieter, becomes more robust and requires less maintenance.

Why are fans required in computers anyway? Well, computers need a lot of processing power that requires high-performance components, especially the CPU. These components generate a lot of heat. If this heat is not removed rapidly and continuously, the system will over-heat and will eventually fail. Fans provide an easy and cheap way to remove this generated heat by blowing air across the hot components and out of the computer casing, keeping the temperature inside the computer within the acceptable limits.

However, the limitations of fans in a dusty environment are significant and in certain application, noise is a major issue. To minimize noise generated by fans and reduce heat generation, various techniques such as; variable and low-speed fans with efficient CPU heat sinks, logic to slow down or shutdown the CPU when not in active use are incorporated. However, the best way to remove the fan-related problems is to remove the fan altogether, replacing it with an alternate heat removal system.

A computer with a good performance is simple to build, but a fanless computer requires a good design. Heat load is carefully calculated and the heat removal system is designed to match the heat load in worst case operating conditions. A system of heatpipes is used to remove the unwanted heat out of the system.

Heatpipes are made of copper or copper alloy, capable of transferring a large amount of heat. Inside the heatpipe there is liquid under low pressure that boils into vapor when it absorbs heat. This vapor then condenses back into liquid at the cooler surfaces of the heatpipe and releases the heat. Heat is taken from the CPU by one end of the heatpipe, and transferred to the other end of the heatpipe in contact with a larger heat sink, which is the Aluminum casing of the computer system. This casing comes in contact with the ambient air and thus dissipates the heat in the air, thereby cooling the system.

TANGENT’s Fanless Rugged Mini PC line is designed with industrial and military grade components and specifications for reliable operation under a demanding environment which require reliable and noiseless operation.

Model Rugged S is specially designed for use in industrial and medical applications. It can be used in mobile medical carts, anesthesia module and display systems. It provides optional ISO ports to meet the needs of Critical Care environments.

Model Rugged S meets rugged design specifications and medical UL60601-1 certification. It comes with built-in watchdog timer for automatic re-start on a non-fatal system fault, optional 4k V Isolation card for patient protection, and an optional TPM for added security.

ruggeds MINI RUGGED S

TANGENTS’s newest model Rugged G is also a fanless computer, designed to handle 12, 19, or 24V DC system power input, a wide range of operating temperatures, and can be installed in a variety of industrial environments.

rUGGED-g-MINI-PC Rugged G

Rugged G’s fanless design is ideal for dusty factory floors and offers a lot of installations options for wall or DIN rail mounting. 4 COM ports, 6 USB ports, and a Digital I/O port, provide maximum connectivity from this rugged industrial Mini PC. Rugged G can operate in extreme operating temperature range of 14° to 131°F (-10° to – 55°C).

noise-freeimage

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.