The medical industry has always had a powerful incentive to optimize efficiency by integrating new technologies into care. Better efficiency lowers operating costs and mistakes and also increases positive results.
It is logical that information technologies (IT) have been readily embraced by the medical community over the past several years, with their almost limitless capacity to streamline processes in all levels of care.
Yet, there are certain challenges posed by the employment of IT in a health setting. These vary from technical concerns such as sterilization to more complex issues of information security, workflow, and theft protection.
This starts with a thorough assessment of the particular environment where the device will be utilized, as well as the requirements that it might have to adhere to. A few of the challenges inherent to medical usage are predictable and inherent to a medical context.
Infection control properties rank highly among these; infections that are transmitted within a hospital, not only lead to a significant cost to the provider through lost reimbursement but also put patients at obvious risk.
It is crucial that a device can withstand frequent cleaning without loss of function or deterioration, which standard devices simply are unable to do.
Breakage is another basic parameter and difficulty that consumer-grade electronics can’t fulfill without consumer cases that present a completely new set of infection control concerns or expensive cases that retrofit consumer devices to health care standards.
Medical IT requires patient confidence, in addition to the purposeful investment, so theft prevention is a high priority. The loss of a device can be costly, but when data is compromised it can also potentially involve significant privacy concerns.
Measures to address this issue can be as straightforward as customizing the physical appearance of a device to make it less appealing or more easily identifiable, or as sophisticated as creating organization-specific Basic Input/Output Systems (BIOS) to eliminate unauthorized usage and disabling USB function to stop the simple duplication of data. These concerns can also be alleviated by Mobile Device Management (MDM) software.
In some instances, medical providers will understand a few of the specifications which are necessary for their unique application as they will have previous trial-and-error expertise with IT devices.
Utilization in a non-clinical area will differ from employment in an operating room where a fanless design becomes vital to avoid the circulation of pathogens. The capacity of a device to be customized enables a more efficient, higher-performing ecosystem.