No Down Time for New Medical Computer

A new medical computer tackles the ubiquitous challenges of power supply, mobility, and secure connectivity within hospitals and care facilities.

Marie Thibault

August 16, 2016

4 Min Read
No Down Time for New Medical Computer

A new medical computer tackles the ubiquitous challenges of power supply, mobility, and secure connectivity within hospitals and care facilities. 

WOWs, COWs, and COW Corrals--what? Those aren't ranching terms. These acronyms for Computers on Wheels (COWs) and Workstations on Wheels (WOWs) are familiar to many hospital clinicians, nurses, and adminstrators. Unfortunately, the problem of COW Corrals, when multiple computers are abandoned in an area of the facility because they are too heavy, too unwieldy, or not ready to use, is a common challenge for many caregivers too. 

San Jose, CA-based DT Research goes after these key challenges with its just-released DT590 series of All-in-One Medical-Cart Computers. The DT590 series features computers that are light, fanless, cordless, sport an antimicrobial coating, and use smaller batteries that can be swapped out without powering down. Medical computers are used in doctors' offices, nursing homes, by hospital bedsides, and other settings. 

Daw Tsai Sc.D., president of DT Research, said in a press release, "We studied the issues with COWs and WOWs - all were related to unreliable, heavy, and expensive power supplies. Our focus for the DT590 series was to address the power supply issues, while also improving upon key medical computer functionality."

Learn about "Meeting Your Customer's Needs" at the MD&M Minneapolis Conference, September 21-22.

It's not easy to make a powerful computer that can also run for a long time on batteries. "I think a lot of the challenge is still having a high processing power while still having everything be battery-powered," said Kevin Tsai, senior product engineer at DT Research. "Before, the limitation was, how long can your system last?" He pointed out that battery technology has improved and computer technology has prioritized mobility and power consumption. "All of that coming together allows us to create a hot-swappable system that now you're able to run a powerful i3, i7 processor on battery while still maintaining at least a work shift."

Gabrielle Marshall, marketing manager at DT Research, noted that the computers, which have a 3-bay hot-swappable battery system, can run for 15-16 hours on one set of three batteries--an important detail, since hospitals are never closed for business.

This constant power supply means the computers are always ready to use. The DT590 medical computer unit is used by Ensign Services, a company that includes hundreds of long-term care facilities, numerous urgent care centers, and dozens of home healthcare agencies. Marcus Gilliam, IT manager at Ensign Services, told MD+DI that the biggest advantage of the computer is "the amount of productivity hours that we have been able to gain back, due to using a more reliable product from DT Research."

Other features of the new medical computers make it ideal for a medical setting. There is the option for a fanless computer, important because it may help prevent the spread of disease.

"A lot of hospitals have been pushing for a fanless design," Tsai said. "Let's say you have a computer and you bring it into a patient's room who has a highly contagious disease. You don't want the risk of having that disease infiltrate your machine . . . with a fan that's blowing it around and might spit it back out into another patient's room."

The computers also have an antimicrobial casing. Gilliam said that this feature was one of the reasons Ensign chose the new computer. "We choose the DT590 unit for its durability, screen size, battery life, and the anti-microbial casing which comes in handy in a medical environment." He added, "We also like that the DT590 offers internal batteries which help with space saving and discourages tampers by staff members."

The DT590 series also addresses another concern that arises anytime hospital and computer are spoken in the same sentence: cybersecurity. The computers run the Windows 10 IoT Enterprise operating system, which only runs trusted applications and accesses only authorized UBS peripherals, according to the press release. Features like this are "nice protection against a hardware attack," Tsai said. 

"Hospitals and healthcare facilities have a growing number of data-generating computers and IoT devices," Helen Fanucci, general manager of Americas Device IoT Experience at Microsoft, said in the release. "Creating a complex mesh of connected devices need not be such a difficult task. The open device interoperability standards built into Windows 10 reduces complexities and simplifies connectivity among devices by enabling interoperability and communication across a range of devices regardless of connection specifics and OS platform."

[Images courtesy of DT RESEARCH]

About the Author(s)

Marie Thibault

Marie Thibault is the managing editor for Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry and Qmed. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @MedTechMarie.

Sign up for the QMED & MD+DI Daily newsletter.

You May Also Like