Today’s healthcare industry relies heavily on technology. Computer use in medicine, especially, has come a long way since the Sixties when they were looked upon more as major expenses than useful tools for doctors. Today, specialized ones like medical panel PCs can be found throughout many medical facilities for a variety of uses. Let’s take a look at how medical computers have revolutionized the practice of medicine and become an indispensable tool for clinicians and other medical personnel.
What are Medical Computers?
Medical computers are electronics optimized to function in healthcare settings like the hospital. They are used in record-keeping (EMR, EHR), monitoring of patient’s vitals, to aiding in image processing from X-rays to CAT scans. They have proven invaluable, allowing doctors and other medical staff to care for an increasing number of patients without sacrificing quality.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is showing up on more and more medical computers. The fledgling technology is making inroads with such abilities as monitoring at-risk patients remotely to accurately diagnosing cancer cells from scans. The hope is AI will simplify the doctors’ tasks even further.
Built for Healthcare
Medical computers are not the average off-the-shelf machine. They are packed with certifications, functionalities, and customizations to meet the many unique demands of the sector.
These features are numerous. Many PCs used in healthcare are medical grade. This means they have been built to be safe around patients and any medical devices sustaining them. A medical grade panel PC won’t interfere with the ECG/EKG monitor recording the patient’s heart beat, for example, or ignite any flammable anesthesia gas during delicate operating procedures.
60601-1 is the most accepted standard for a computer to be deemed “medical grade”. Three classifications of note found under it include:
- Type B: For devices that operate near patients. Example: medical panel PCs.
- Type BF: For devices that make contact with the patient. Example: an endoscope.
- Type CF: For devices that make contact with a patient’s heart. Example: implantable defibrillator.
Another feature found in most medical computers is their incredible durability. Hospitals operate on a 24/7 timeline. It’s expected any equipment there has the ability to do so as well.
It’s not just a matter of being always powered up. No, it’s a question if the computer has been purposely built to handle the workload. For instance, many medical panel PCs have a built-in emergency battery to remain functional during a power outage. Others come with hot swappable batteries so they never need to rely on AC power. These PCs can stay on for up to 16 hours of run time before needing freshly recharged batteries.
Industrial grade parts also keep medical computers working on and on. These are especially useful in medical tablets. Many are prone to be knocked around, dropped, or both. Their designs and materials help ensure they continue to work even after such abuse.
Regular computer fans and their moving parts can break and shut down the machine until the fan unit is fixed or replaced. To prevent this, a medical panel PC is built with fanless design. This allows the interior to keep cool without the use of a fan and risk breaking down.
Hospitals frequently clean their facilities with powerful cleaners and disinfectants. Both could cause major havoc if they get inside machines. That is not a problem with IP65 rated medical computers. They’re built to take direct blasts of water and other liquids without letting any get inside to cause damage.
Most healthcare organizations still have legacy products across their facilities. These are outdated software, hardware, or both no longer supported by their original manufacturers. An example is anesthesia machines.
Many legacy tech cannot be replaced. This is because they have become an integral part in the organization’s networks for years. Many, in fact, are so connected to healthcare’s systems that removing the wrong one could potentially wreak havoc as it causes a domino-effect affecting every connected device.
To deal with this, legacy product support can be found in many medical computers. A modern medical panel PC will have built in not only the latest USB port but an RS-232 port, a long-discontinued virtual point introduced back in the Sixties.
Medical computers have revolutionized the way the healthcare industry operates in modern times. Machines like medical panel PCs streamline processes like maintaining patient records to the diagnosis of X-ray and CAT scans. These and more allow doctors to up the number of patients seen per shift while still maintaining high quality of care.