Hospitals can be chaotic places. You have doctors running codes; nurses calming patients, their families, or both; as well as non-medical staff supporting all of the above. Medical equipment and devices can get bumped, dropped, and sometimes even run over.
So it’s vital that hardware like computer tablets are able to withstand the daily demands. Healthcare IT should look into the following four features when purchasing a rugged medical tablet.
Industrial Grade Parts
One way to ensure a medical tablet is, well, “rugged” to design it that way. This starts from the materials used in the housing. Examples include the type of plastics in the housing of the tablet. Polycarbonate, acrylonitrile butadiene tyrene, polyethylene terephthalate, and nylon are examples found in rugged tablets.
Rugged design extends into the tablet’s interior. An internal magnesium frame, for example, can provide a sturdy structure to protect the internal components and the motherboard.
Then there’s the testing. Ruggedized tablets undergo various shock, vibration and drop tests. Many are based on the standards used by the US military for its personnel field equipment. These verified items like tablets are durable and resilient enough to continue operating in harsh conditions like being dropped onto a hard hospital floor.
Industrial grade for rugged medical tablets also includes being built with antimicrobial plastic and touch glass. These features help protect the mobile device from degradation or deterioration.
Fanless Design and Solid-State Drive
Computers from desktop PCs to tablets generate a lot of heat when running. To keep them cool, fans are installed in them. There’s usually at least one.
Unfortunately, fans have moving parts. This makes them vulnerable to stop working if the computer gets bumped hard enough or dropped. This shuts down the entire machine until the fan is repaired or replaced. Many hospitals, which are busy 24/7/365, can ill afford to wait for such fixes.
Tablets from off-the-shelf to medical ones do not use fans. Their CPU and similar systems are specially designed to emit less heat. Then heat sinks dissipate those remains throughout the housing.
Another computer component with moving parts is the disc drive. These include the actuator, the read-write arm, and spinning platters. A hard enough jolt from a bump could permanently disable the drive and prevent access to its valuable records. Solid-state drives, which record data without moving parts, should be used instead.
IP65 Sealed Against Dust and Liquids
Hospitals sterilize and disinfect their medical devices and equipment regularly. Unsurprisingly, they use hospital-grade sprays and liquids to do so. These chemicals are quite harsh and can potentially damage the motherboard and other interior parts.
Medical tablets must be able to withstand them. One way to do so is make sure the chemicals don’t get into the machine in the first place. Computers rated IP65 can do just that. IP stands for “ingress protection”. It shows how sealed-up an electronic device or equipment is against dust and liquids. A “6” means it’s tightly sealed against dust while the “5” shows protection against direct high pressure jets from a certain distance. Hospital staff will have no worries about damaging a rugged medical tablet with IP65 sealed front bezels.
Medical Grade Tested and Certified
Finally, there is medical grade. This means equipment like a rugged medical tablet has been built to function safely for use around patients per international standards (60601-1). It has been certified not to cause a spark that could jump to them, for example, or affect vital medical devices like EKG monitors or automated IV drips. This goes for emitting unusual amounts of radiation or igniting the sometimes flammable anesthesia gasses used during surgery.
Many things can happen in hospitals that can damage electronics like medical tablets. Healthcare IT has turned to rugged medical tablets with features like rugged parts and IP65 to protect their investment.