The case for equipping military troops with rugged – and even ultra-rugged – tablets for training or in-theatre operations may seem clear as day. Troops can’t afford to battle a failing mobile PC in the midst of a mission. Plus, real-time, around-the-clock information access is as essential to the strategic planning and safe execution of routine tasks as it is to the pursuit of high-value targets. Thus, mobile computers that can provide complete situational awareness and secure, uninterrupted communications are equally vital to the performance of maritime units surrounded by salt fog as they are to ground and air units deployed to Middle Eastern deserts where blowing dust, extreme temperatures, and bright sunlight are unavoidable. And close contact with fuels, grease, and vibration – among other hazards – more than justify the military’s investment in ruggedized tablets for maintainers working on flight lines and fleet yards.
But the role of these MIL-STD-810G certified and IP rated tablets no longer stops on the frontlines. Back at home, many military healthcare providers such as the Royal Australian Air Force Association (RAAFA) are recognizing that consumer-grade devices are incapable of delivering the quality clinical care these troops deserve – even long after retirement. So they’re following the lead of the military in equipping healthcare workers with rugged tablets that can reliably be used in patient rooms, operating rooms, and even common areas such as the dining rooms found in aged-care facilities such as RAAFA’s.
The motivation for such a tidal shift in healthcare mobility is multi-faceted. So are the rising administrative and care responsibilities ultimately necessitating that aged-care facilities, for example, spend valuable budget on these military-grade tablet PCs to boost productivity and regain control over documentation requirements.
Craig Burkett, RAAFA CIO, noted: “This [rugged tablet mobility] system eases our administrative load and provides us more control of the outcomes. Not only does it free staff to focus more on their core competencies in caregiving, it provides them with a sense of empowerment and accountability in the workplace, plus has increased their IT skillset. It is a win / win situation and ultimately translates to better residential care and job satisfaction for our staff.”
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- Industry-wide studies have shown that the integration of mobile technology into patient care has ultimately improved the quality of care. Caregivers have to balance their working time in actual caregiving with the administrative requirements of maintaining clinical documentation of the patients under their charge. The less time spent doing documentation means more time for caregiving.
- Tablet PCs, in particular, are uniquely designed to serve healthcare providers – and patients –in many of the same ways they serve troops in the field: with the continuity of data access that empowers users to take fast, well-informed action. Tablets have evolved into the only fully functioning computing tool capable of pooling critical resources – patient records, best practice and process guidance, etc. – in a single truly mobile PC to provide complete situational awareness at all times.
- But like any computer, a tablet PC is only advantageous if it can stay powered on and securely connected to the right people and applications. That doesn’t describe the consumer-grade devices that many military and healthcare organizations have tried – and failed – to implement successfully. Consumer devices are just too fragile to survive the frequent drops, fluid contaminants, mandatory decontamination processes, and overall harsh handling by healthcare workers who are focused on patient care. Plus, consumer devices don’t offer the same level of processing power, long battery life, data input tools, or wireless and I/O connectivity as rugged tablets designed for healthcare providers who are constantly “walking and working”. Nor do consumer-grade devices consistently meet many regions’ strict healthcare security and privacy standards. They often rely on consumer-grade OS and security packages. Whereas rugged tablets come standard with genuine Windows or Android for Work solutions that combine government-mandated security measures such as TPM, encryption, multi-factor authentication, Smart Card/CAC readers, and fingerprint scanners with other mobile device management security tools designed specifically for sensitive enterprise data requirements
Thus, healthcare leaders such as RAAFA are applying lessons learned from both the active duty military sector and their healthcare peers to quickly correct course – and increase the efficiency, accuracy, and quality of patient care – with rugged tablets. In turn, they’re gaining an unprecedented ability to fulfill their mission: “To provide the highest standard of care to all patients, while maintaining the dignity, privacy, independence and comfort of each.”
Read more about RAAFA’s previous patient care and administrative challenges and how they applied Xplore rugged tablet technologies to transition their administration requirements from traditional static ‘office’ locations to a mobile ‘on-the-go’ system for caregivers.