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New Intel Tablet Streamlines Patient Tracking

Intel and Motion Computing have teamed up to develop and deliver a new tablet PC for the healthcare industry — the C5 mobile clinical assistant (MCA).

Based on Intel’s new MCA platform, Motion’s C5 device is currently in trial use in hospitals and is already gaining enthusiastic interest from the healthcare community.

“To me, this is the first device that has been specifically designed for healthcare,” Dr. Michael Westcott, chief medical information officer for the Nebraska- and Iowa-based Alegent Health hospital system, told TechNewsWorld. “Before, we have just taken a computer and adapted it to healthcare. But with this one, they talked to tons of clinicians to figure out what we needed. It might seem mundane, but one of the things the nurses said was, ‘We need a handle.’ And you’ll notice there’s a handle built in.”

Medical Features

Handles seem intuitive enough, but if you look at Motion Computing’s previous tablet PCs, none come close to offering a similar form factor. Additional features set the C5 further apart from standard tablet PCs.

For instance, the C5 contains built-in bar code and RFID (radio frequency identification) readers that let hospitals track and verify patient identification, specimen and medications, as well as Bluetooth connectivity that enable it to connect directly to other medical devices. It has a built-in camera, which can be used to document patient wounds or progress, and a fingerprint reader that lets nurses securely and quickly log in and out of the unit. If a hospital uses RFID tags, they could also use RFID as another method for rapid user log-on.

The C5 also features handwriting and speech recognition, as well as an optional docking station for battery recharging and keyboard/mouse hookups.

Rigorous Hospital Environments

It’s unlikely that a doctor in a hospital would drop a tablet into a puddle of mud, but the healthcare field has its own set of rigorous requirements, not the least of which is disinfecting equipment.

Hospital-acquired infections affect more than 2 million American patients, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resulting annually in 90,000 deaths, which is why the company created a new casing system.

“The C5 has an almost portless design that’s semi-sealed so there are fewer nooks and crannies, which helps with the disinfection process,” Tony Bonadero, vice president of product marketing for Motion Computing, told TechNewsWorld. “It also has a chemical-resistant resin built-in to withstand the frequent cleaning that needs to happen in a hospital environment.”

Most hospitals currently use laptops or PCs on rolling carts called Computers on Wheels, or COWs, but they lack easy and quick portability for nurses, who are often moving quickly between patients.

Plus, Dr. Westcott told TechNewsWorld, “It’s hard to disinfect a cart.”

New Processes

Nurses frequently work long 12-hour shifts, which makes battery life a critical issue.

The C5 batteries, which can be hot-swapped, have a three-hour runtime.

To deal with that problem, Alegent plans to have three docking stations for every C5 unit, which will let healthcare personnel dock it for quick recharges throughout a shift.

Perhaps far more important than the technology built into the C5 is the way the unit promises to change the patient care process.

Alegent, Dr. Westcott explained, uses bar code technology with the C5 that lets a nurse scan a patient armband, a nurse badge and each dose of medication. “And all of those have to match up before you get a green checkmark on the C5 screen,” he said. “We’ve almost eliminated all medication errors with that.”

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