Advances in Bedside Terminals

Join us for a trip in our time machine as we make a quick visit to a hospital room circa the early 1970s. Yes, back to a time before high-tech hospitals, stand-alone surgical centers, and professional nursing homes became commonplace. Back to a time that if someone was sick, incapacitated, or needed surgery, a visit to a local hospital was pretty much their only choice.

As we enter the room, notice, if you will, how sterile (aesthetically speaking) it appears: bare white walls with no pictures; monochromatic shades covering the windows, no colorfl curtains; a couple of institutional metal chairs, no comfy loungers; nary a TV set, not even a black-and-white portable; and, of course, the bed with heavy rails running its length on both sides, thick head and foot boards, and either a somewhat primitive electronic control panel or a manual crank to move or adjust the bed to a suitable position for the patient’s comfort or ease of care.

Now look at what is hanging from the foot board-a clipboard. And on it are charts or records of the care, including drugs administered, observations, therapy, X-rays, etc., which that particular patient would be receiving and what and when they received it. All hand written, maybe scribbled, and entered by various doctors and nurses, each with his or her own unique handwriting style. Any other information regarding the patient and their care, as well as medical history, would have been located elsewhere, on-site or possibly off, and certainly not easily obtained.

It makes you wonder how anyone ever got well. But they did.

Now, let’s return to today’s typical patient room, whether it be in a hospital, or an aforementioned surgical center, health clinic, or nursing home.

It’s easy to see the major differences – the room’s brightness, modern amenities, and a contemporary multi-position bed that does everything but fold in half. One thing you don’t see, however, is a clip board hanging at the foot of the bed. It has been replaced by a wireless, computer-based bedside terminal that provides instant access to not only a patient’s care, but their entire medical record as well.

Bedside units allow healthcare professionals tremendous access to patient records. As part of a network, they provide healthcare organizations with flexibility and potential cost savings, especially when compared to placing a PC at every bed or having to wheel a laptop sitting on a cart, with a high potential of carrying infectious material, from room to room.

SEE ALSO: Mobile Technologies Easing Cognitive Workload for Clinicians

Patient Safety
Depending on how they are configured, these bedside units may have badge-scan capabilities via RFID/NFC for healthcare professionals to log in. This assures that medical records and other existing medical IT software the hospital or clinic may utilize is being accessed only by the proper hospital or clinic personnel.

Another patient safety measure that is included in some bedside units is the use of bar codes and scanners. These allow a patient’s armband as well as a barcode on a drug container to be scanned. If the two match up, the medication may be given, eliminating potentially dangerous errors.

And unlike tablet PCs that are used in similar applications, a bedside terminal is fixed and secured to the bed, so it cannot be stolen, lost, or dropped.

Computing Software
Many bedside units, such as the HTab from Arbor Solution, offer high performance and outstanding graphic computing. They may be used for vital sign monitoring, nursing care, clinical diagnosis, and as a picture archiving and communication system (PACS). With a multitude of networking connectivity and identification modules, they offer doctors and medical staff a trusted and easy-to-use system.

Many software companies have developed unique programs specifically for the medical industry. One such company is TMM Software. Its ‘Multimed Touch’ bedside software package offers hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities a large range of multimedia entertainment services, internal and external communication services, and an access to medical and hospital information.

“A bedside infotainment system offers both medical personnel and patients many benefits.”

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Infotaintment Systems
Advanced bedside terminals today, often referred to as all-in-one patient infotainment systems, provide a convenient turn-key environment for both the health professional and patient. They often support a wide variety of connecting and data-retrieving devices to assist the medical staff, while offering patients excellent multimedia entertainment and communication services, which in turn make their hospital stay more comfortable and tolerable.

A bedside infotainment system offers both medical personnel and patients many benefits. Some of these are:

  • Easy to implement at bedside as a point-of-care workstation.
  • Provides quick retrieving of all medical records through built-in RFID, barcode, or SmartCard reader.
  • Serves as an ID check for data accessing by MSR (magnetic stripe card).
  • Provides patients an interactive means to contact hospital services regarding meals, therapeutic education programs, hospital information, and other matters
  • Offers patients a multimedia service for things such as watching TV, browsing the Internet, listening to the radio, playing games, doing some social networking, accessing on-demand content, video phoning/Skyping, and even contacting the nurses’ station (it is a hospital after all).
  • Supports real-time communication throughvoice over internet protocol (VOIP).
  • Allows case consulting with doctor.
  • Provides way for patients to perform vital-sign self-checks.

One other advantage provided by a bedside unit is that it gives medical practitioners more time to spend with a patient to discuss their treatment, talk about other ailments, hear the patient’s concerns, or just shoot the breeze and get to know one another better.

Brian Yurkiw is vice president at Arbor Solution, a leading provider of rugged tablets for the medical industry.

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