Following the recent expansion of our Advantech product range to include medical-grade PCs and monitors, we’re taking a look at some of the key considerations when choosing medical computing equipment for critical care.

What is Critical Care?

Critical care involves the diagnosis and management of life-threatening conditions by specially trained healthcare professionals. Critical care practitioners combine their expertise with highly sophisticated equipment and computer systems to provide care for the patient. Critical care is usually given in an intensive care unit (ICU), emergency department, surgical area or trauma centre.

Critical care computer systems use real-time monitoring of vital data to closely track patient vital signs and translate patient physiological data into clinical information.

What does a Critical Care Computer System look like?

Critical Care Computer Systems improve access to patient data and aid in informed decision-making at the point of care. Data which is gathered, organised and processed from various sources can be used by hospital staff for cost management, patient outcome analysis, quality improvements and to meet regulatory compliance.

Critical care computers can take a variety of forms. One example is Perioperative Information Systems in Operating Arenas. Perioperative Information Systems support clinical and administrative decision making from pre-operative through intra-and post-operative procedures. A Perioperative Information System could, for example, provide a total anaesthesia information system that records and documents each phase of the procedure to produce a comprehensive patient record which is linked to existing patient monitoring equipment, anaesthesia machines, and other equipment.

Key considerations in product choice

Here are some key considerations for customers when choosing the right critical care computer system:

  • Infection Control

With the current health crisis, the focus is more than ever on infection control in healthcare environments. It is  therefore absolutely essential that your hardware is hygienic in order to minimize the risk of spreading infection.

Products with an IP54 certified enclosure provide protection from water and dust, easy cleaning, and added safety for patients and clinicians. Fanless designs can also contribute to minimizing the risk of disease spread. 

  • Reliability

Reliability in the medical environment is vital, since any malfunctions can have life-critical consequences. Look for products which have been approved using RDT (Reliability Demonstration Testing). RDT verifications provide a strict way to achieve real product MTBF in a short time by accelerating usage through temperature cycling, thermal shock and combination tests.

Products which have been HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test) certified have undergone testing to help verify the operational limits of a system and find design and component weakness. 

  • Flexibility

Every healthcare provider has different and specific needs. Advantech point of care terminals are designed for flexible customization, allowing different configurations of Wi-Fi modules, smart card readers, battery packs, RFID readers, DVD drives, or Bluetooth modules.

The POC-W242 is specially extended to 4 PCIe card slots to increase availability for medical-use applications. POC terminals with PCAP technology are designed to enhance light transmission, and 7H hardness rating of the glass improves durability. 

  • Image Resolution

Clear, vivid display images, with no colour wash, allow healthcare professionals to use screens to accurately carry out tasks such as viewing 2D and 3D patient data. Screens with IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology are responsive, processing high speed signals without data loss via low-resistance copper wiring. IPS technology also eliminates image distortion while using the touchscreen. Wide-viewing-angle support presents images to viewers from any angle, without blur.

Look also for surfaces which are 7H hard, with a responsive multi-touch interface that works well, even with a gloved hand.

  • Power Solutions

Finally, look for medical screens with intelligent power technology. If a device has to be turned off in order to replace the battery, system interruptions and downtime can cause critical delays. Hot swappable batteries enable end users to replace the battery without turning off the device.

The Advantech hot swappable battery is a mobile power pack equipped with three hot-swappable batteries which are compatible with a range of Panel PCs in the market. This intelligent power solution can support 6 – 12 operating hours, which greatly supports each nursing shift.

For advice on selecting the right medical hardware for your organisation, contact us here.


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