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key factor to assess during the device evaluation process. If not properly designed, screen visibility could significantly decrease after repeated sani- tization. It’s good to ask what sort of testing has been done in this area, and if the device is IP (ingress protection) rated. Durability is a chief con- sideration for mobile com-

Scott Thie is director of healthcare, Panasonic Systems Communications Company. For more on Panasonic:

puters in healthcare. Fragility is not an option when your work has such critical outcomes. At the end of the day, if a clinician can’t rely on a computer to operate after an inevi- table drop or spill, the ability to transform their workflow is significantly reduced.

Choosing a mobile computing device with reliable con- nectivity is an essential step to take, as a wireless connection helps to drive efficiency and maximize the value of your deployment. Wireless capabilities enable mobile healthcare professionals to access and update medical records in real time, enabling hospital staff to treat and discharge patients quickly and accurately. Working with a wireless provider that best fits your facility and your users’ needs is an important step to re- member. When looking at a tablet’s connectivity, consider its ability to capture a signal in fringe areas. Or, if you’re using Bluetooth, be sure to compare how far away a device can be without losing a signal. Connectivity testing is simple and often overlooked. It’s common to blame the wireless network when you can’t get a signal; in many cases it’s actu- ally the device that is at fault. Finally, if you are deploying a wireless network you need to work with an integrator that is well versed in dealing with the challenges and intricacies associated with deploying wireless technologies in a hospital environment.

The confidentiality of patient information and data security are crucial in a healthcare environment. Having options – such as fingerprint scanners, smartcard readers and data encryption software paired with BIOS-level secu- rity technology, such as Computrace – is critical. If mobile computing devices don’t offer these options, they should, at the very least, comply with the appropriate level of HIPAA compliance. From ease of sanitization to battery life, each of the fea- tures noted is truly an imperative consideration for CIOs and IT departments to keep in mind when evaluating a mobile computing solution.

In healthcare, mobile technology can take efficiency, accuracy and patient care to the next level. But before a healthcare IT department makes a deployment decision, it is essential to step back and thoroughly evaluate available options. The wrong choice can have long-term ramifications for both the quality of patient care and bottom-line perfor- mance; after all, in healthcare especially, a mobile technology failure can have serious, real-life consequences.


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