What Is A Medical Grade Computer?

By Shira Sagal, Content Manager, Teguar Computers
Twitter: @TeguarComputers

Not all innovations lead to improved patient care or lower operating costs, but many of them do so your health care operations needs to stay current with the latest breakthroughs. This may require initial investments of money and training but the payoff can be worthwhile. Medical grade computers are a technology that can improve patient outcomes and make your practice more efficient.

Currently, there is no standard definition of a medical grade computer, but there are certain features to look for when selecting one for your health care setting. The first consideration is basic functionality. All medical grade computers need to be able to run 24/7 as healthcare never stops. Then, check to make sure that the computer supports HIPAA compliant electronic health record (EHR) practices and that it is compatible with your current operating system and software. Increasingly, medical facilities are requiring any electronic device used to carry certifications regarding electrical charge and flow from the device. Some of the common certifications desired are CE, FCC class A or B, EN60601-1 and UL60601-1. Finally, another component of a medical computer may be an anti-bacterial coating over the enclosure which helps cut down the spread of MRSA and other infections.

Use of Medical Grade Computers for EHR

Some physicians still hold out for paper health records, but EHRs are now the norm. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 includes provisions for financial incentives for Medicare providers who demonstrate meaningful use of technology for EHR by meeting Stage 1 and Stage 2 criteria.

Some benefits of storing patient records on medical grade computers include the following:

  • Complete set of records with no risk of paper loss of important data.
  • Accurate records with less chance for human error upon data entry or retrieval.
  • Less chance of conflicting treatments, such as drug interactions.
  • Faster diagnosis, since all information is available in the single patient file.
  • Easy and clear viewing of electronic imaging records such as Xrays and MRIs.

A good medical grade computer needs to quickly process complete patient health records to get through a patient visit in a timely manner. As patient privacy is becoming more of a concern, these computers must be able to maintain HIPAA compliance according to the HITECH Act within the ARRA of 2009. Look for a computer with the following characteristics:

  • Supports the operating system needed and patient record software.
  • Securely connects to a network to allow various medical providers, but no unauthorized users, to access patient records.
  • Can easily be backed up to prevent data loss.
  • Can have RFID reader or barcode scanner type attachments if needed for use in tracking treatment.

Surgical and Diagnostic Applications

Medical grade computers have the potential to assist in patient care because of imaging capabilities. For example, computers with the proper graphics processor, CPU performance, screen display, and software compatibility can visualize patients’ inner workings to guide surgeons during surgery. In diagnostics, computers display MRI and CT scans providing radiologists with critical information. New software and high definition screens enable a diagnostician to see better than before and more quickly detect what they are looking for.

Medical Computers provide a platform for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) files which can be used anywhere in the hospital to display medical images such as Ultrasounds and X-rays. This lets all members of the health care team access the information needed at the time they focus their attention on the patient to provide diagnostic and monitoring services. When looking for a medical grade computer, consider exactly what it will be used for to make sure you select one that supports the necessary operating system, visual display, and software needed.

Compatibility with Your Current Setup

Medical grade computers are a costly investment but do provide a high ROI (Return On Investment). Justification for allocating the money upfront includes the potential for better patient care, along with reduced operating costs due to greater efficiency. A good medical grade computer is compatible with your current technology network and software, as well as configurable for future applications.

Cleanliness for Your Health Care Environment

Computers and computer equipment may seem clean, but invisible bacteria can easily build up. Typical PCs are not sterile enough for a hospital or other health care environment where staying sanitized is a top priority. In fact, a standard home or office computer may have three times the number of germs as a toilet seat. A medical grade computer has features that promote hygiene such as the following.

  • Fanless design to prevent debris from building up in the fan.
  • A fully sealed enclosure, which is easy to clean with sanitizer without getting moisture inside.
  • An antimicrobial touchscreen and enclosure, which can prevent the spread of MRSA.
  • Fewer wires so the room remains easy to clean.

Medical grade computers are essential in modern health care settings to increase efficiency and support patient care. When you search for a medical grade computer, make sure it supports all the technical functions you need and contributes to a sanitary environment.

About the Author: Shira Sagal is a graduate of Asbury University and the Content Manager for Teguar Computers. She specializes in translating technical terminology into real world applications.