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Rugged Tablets in Healthcare

The significance of technology in ensuring excellent patient care and streamlining hospital operations has been huge. In healthcare environments, performance, accuracy, reliability, etc., are imperative [1]. The healthcare environment is an ecosystem with medical imaging, patient, data, etc., and the complex ecosystem needs advanced technology to run smoothly. Rugged tablets are a part of modern technology. These tablets have been great for streamlining operations in waiting rooms, hospital halls, nurse stations, etc., for documenting and communicating patient information, allowing nurses and paramedics to check patient records instantly.

What are Rugged Tablets

Rugged tablets are industrial devices in tablet forms meeting certain requirements like protection against rough and extreme environments. Rugged features give a tablet the capability of showcasing a rugged shell, withstanding high temperatures, jolts, drops, etc. These tablets often have military-grade protection certificates. Most rugged tablets support any operating system, such as Windows, Android, etc. The popularity of rugged tablets is quickly increasing.

 

Figure 1: Rugged tablet

 

Benefits of Rugged Tablets in Healthcare

The unique characteristics of rugged tablets have been very useful to the healthcare industry. Ruggedness, mobility, water resistance, removable battery facility, etc., are some of the advantages of rugged tablets.

Ruggedness

Rugged tablets usually have drop ratings for falls onto concretes from a 3-feet height, but these tablets can usually withstand drops from more than 3-feet height. A lip surrounding the front bezel and the rubber corners in a rugged tablet protect the touchscreen. In a healthcare setting or normal day-to-day use, there can be some accidental falls and drops. People never expect broken tablet computers to hold up their practices, and they don’t like to replace their tablets every year. However, some tablets with military-grade certifications have extreme ruggedness [2].

Mobility

At present, every industry likes to take the benefits of mobile computing. Rugged tablets have various sizes, but 12 inches is usually the maximum size, so they are large enough to show patient information clearly and also small enough to handle all day. It’s even possible to fit a smaller size (between 4 to 8 inches) tablet in a pocket. Special accessories like a shoulder strap, hand strap, carry handle, etc., can make these tablets even simpler to carry.

Water Resistance

In healthcare applications, a waterproof tablet provides various benefits. Waterproof, completely sealed tablets are suitable for cleaning by spraying, and users can even dunk these into disinfecting solutions. The cleaning is simpler than cleaning consumer-grade tablets because a user probably has to wipe down a consumer-grade tablet delicately along with its case. In the case of sterilizing a tablet regularly, a rugged tablet hardly shows any sign of damage and wear, but a consumer-grade tablet gets affected.

Removable Battery Facility

For continuous use, rugged tablets usually have a removable battery facility, so the user can replace a battery with a recharged one whenever he wants. Some rugged tablets also have hot-swappable batteries; it’s possible to swap the battery when a tablet is running because the tablet has a low backup power from an internal battery. These facilities save time for the users as they don’t have to pause their work to charge their tablets.

 

Applications of Rugged Tablets in Healthcare

Rugged tablets have given a boost to the medical sector. There have been various applications of rugged tablets in healthcare. Some of these applications are mobile imaging, practice management, medical documentation, patient education, medication orders, etc. The global market share of rugged displays was $599 million in 2017, and it’s estimated to be $946 million in 2025 [3]. The continuously increasing market share indicates the increased applications of rugged tablets.

 

Figure 2: Global market share of rugged displays

 

Mobile Imaging

The increased use of rugged tabs in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and many other healthcare facilities allows healthcare staff to access medical image copies like x-rays, ultrasounds, etc. This technology provides very quick access to various images for comparisons; therefore, multiple images are viewable side by side for appropriate treatment. Medical rugged tablets also have additional tools allowing medical staff to connect their tablets to ultrasound probes, allowing for very quick ultrasound imaging [4].

 

Healthcare Documentation

Patient data accuracy has improved a lot due to using tablets in the healthcare sector. The enhanced use of tablets helps the healthcare system to stay consistent and organized in different healthcare facilities. It’s beneficial to patients receiving treatments through various healthcare facilities as all the medical information and records are quickly accessible, and as a result, patient treatment becomes very quick.

 

Managing Healthcare Practice

Rugged tablets provide healthcare organizations easy access to in-house planning and scheduling. Scheduling staff, planning surgeries, arranging meetings, etc., are possible in a simple way; the management doesn’t need much time to handle these. This type of managing system is very convenient for healthcare professionals who have to schedule and handle patient visits, procedures with various facilities, etc. Medical billing has also been simplified; it has been accurate and timely due to the increased use of rugged tablets.

 

Medication Orders

Rugged tablets have simplified medication orders too. Using a tablet is very helpful for a healthcare professional to check current medications the patients are having and allergies also. However, it can be detrimental in providing healthcare treatments in emergency situations, especially when a patient’s current medications interact with the medications a healthcare professional gives. In the case of a severe injury due to an automotive accident, healthcare professionals can quickly check the patient’s medication history before providing treatment. Tablets also help to reduce errors often seen in hand-written orders.

 

OEM Healthcare Devices

OEM/ODM projects may take years for testing and certification. Consumer-grade tablets aren’t suitable for these projects as these tablets last for only a few years. However, rugged tablets are a perfect option for these projects. Usually, a rugged tablet can last a minimum of 5 years, and some can last for around 10 years. Being mounted onto a machine, rugged tablets can last for many years. That’s why rugged tablets are highly preferable in projects.

 

Patient Education

For the recovery of patients, educating them on their illness or injuries, medication types, required treatments, etc., is important. Tablets are ideal for educating patients because healthcare professionals can use resources like diagrams, online videos, animations, etc., to provide the patients with information about their injuries and illness. Proper education helps the patients to understand what’s actually happening to them. Also, the patient will get the opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions as they have sufficient information.

 

Why Should You Use Rugged Tablets?

There can be so many reasons behind using rugged tablets. Cost, durability, etc., are some of the major reasons for which healthcare professionals can rely on rugged tablets.

Cost

Rugged tablets may seem costly as compared to consumer-grade tablets considering the initial buying price, but the overall cost of a rugged tablet is actually lower in the long run. Unlike lower priced normal tablets, rugged tablets don’t need many repairs and replacements. Downtime costs of rugged tablets are also on the lower side. However, users can upgrade rugged tablets in the field, and these tablets are repairable with tool-less access, so maintenance costs are also low.

 

Durability

Consumer-grade and cheaper-priced tablets are less durable as the normal materials used in these tablets aren’t good enough to last long in hospital environments. Also, these tablets’ internal processors aren’t strong enough for functioning 24/7 in busy hospitals. However, rugged tablets are completely the opposite of these consumer-grade tablets. Rugged tablets can function well in hospital environments with high durability.


How to Choose the Right Rugged Tablet in Healthcare Applications

There are various applications of tablets in the healthcare sector. So, there should be some considerations while choosing a rugged tablet for a specific application. Medical certification, ruggedness, antibacterial housing, optical bonding, anti-glare solution, etc., are some of the major considerations [5].

 

Medical Certification

In the healthcare sector, a tablet should have medical certifications, which can ensure safety against electrical shocks and safety for all healthcare applications. By getting the certification, the manufacturer of a device can assure that their device can work effectively and safely without any danger, electromagnetic disturbance, etc.

 

Ruggedness

The tablet computer must withstand strong vibration and extreme temperature. Healthcare professionals can install a tablet anywhere, like a medical cart, inside an ambulance, operation theatre, laboratory, etc. So, it’s important that the tablet can sustain itself in any environment.

 

Anti-glare Solution

Healthcare applications have requirements for image quality and screen visibility. A tablet glass with an anti-glare solution on it is good in diffusing the glaring light. Therefore, it reduces its intensity and makes it very easy for the viewer to see the image correctly, and provides excellent readability at extreme angles.

 

Optical Bonding

For a touch screen tablet computer, optical bonding is very important. A screen with optical bonding technology has high brightness, resistance to scratches, and better clarity.

 

5 Optical Bonding Advantages Every Innovative Company Should KnowAcheive Clarity and Viewability

Maximum Durability

 

Dust and Moisture Prevention

Figure 3: Optical bonding

Antibacterial Housing

Manufacturers should enhance a rugged tablet’s housing with antibacterial properties so that bacteria growth stays very low. It also helps the tablet with a proper waterproof design to have resistance against various cleaning chemicals. So, cleaning the tablet with liquids, sprays, wipes, etc., becomes possible without worrying about its internal components.

 

Modern technology is transforming the medical industry day by day. Tablet computers have given a new standard of convenience to healthcare professionals. They can conveniently transfer and collect data, update patient information, and check the diagnosis in real-time. The availability of rugged tablets has made the lives of healthcare professionals easier. Medical professionals should know the benefits of rugged tablets and remember the considerations while choosing tablets for healthcare applications.

 

References

 

[1]  “Rugged Tablet Computers for Healthcare Applications,” Embedded Computing Design, 30 December 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.embeddedcomputing.com/application/healthcare/rugged-tablet-computers-for-healthcare-applications-2.
[2]  K. Armstrong, “How are Rugged Tablets used in Healthcare?,” Teguar, 4 November 2020. [Online]. Available: https://teguar.com/rugged-healthcare-tablet-pcs/.
[3]  [Online]. Available: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rugged-tablet-market-to-value-us-946-0-mn-at-cagr-of-5-9-by-2025–exclusive-report-by-fortune-business-insights-300857210.html.
[4]  “HOW RUGGED TABLETS ARE USED IN HEALTHCARE,” CYBERNET, 16 April 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.cybernetman.com/blog/how-rugged-tablets-are-used-in-healthcare/.
[5]  “Rugged Tablet Computers for Healthcare Applications,” Embedded Computing Design, 30 December 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.embeddedcomputing.com/application/healthcare/rugged-tablet-computers-for-healthcare-applications-2.

 

Industries, Military, News & Updates, Recent News

Top Secret: How to Keep Military Displays Functioning in Highly Demanding Environments

Like many industries, the US Military has experienced an increase in efficiency, communication, and execution through the use of electronics, and specifically interactive displays. Unlike most applications, military displays must be ruggedized to meet the severe environmental requirements dictated by diverse battlefields, including sand, water, and extreme temperatures. The display electronics must be durable with near zero-fail reliability. 

E3 Displays, a key provider of ruggedized DoD electronics and displays, manufactures military displays which withstand the harshest of elements – sand and dust, heat and cold, humidity, precipitation, and shock and vibration. Many of the E3 Displays’ products include touch screen technology, high-efficiency brightness and optical enhancements, night-vision (NVIS) technology, EMI filters, wide temperature components, thermal management, embedded computers, all in compliance with MIL-STD-810 and other MIL standards. Combined, these solutions ensure that all display electronics continue to serve our military personnel in whatever function or environment they are engaged. 

There are numerous military display electronics applications, each of which contains a unique combination of features, integration, and ruggedization – some of which are summarized below.

Military Display Applications

Military Handheld and Computer Displays

soldiers holding gps in hand and determines the location of coordinates. militaryand technology concept

Military handheld and computer displays are used on the battlefield, in military quarters, ships, and other locations. High-performance features of these displays include reduced power, advanced backlighting systems, night vision goggle compatibility, optical bonding, video controllers, high mechanical integrity, and customized electronics.

Specialized Displays

Military vehicles like tanks, artillery vehicles, Humvees, and armored personnel carriers endure demanding conditions on the battlefield. Specialized displays are necessary for monitoring vehicle conditions (temperature, track or wheel conditions, armaments), radar, communication, and other critical elements. Since these displays are in close proximity to other electronics, they are often equipped with electromagnetic protection which prevents functional interruptions, interferences, and power spikes. 

Rack and Panel Mount Military Displays

Rack and panel mount displays have a front mounting bezel with captive hardware or through-holes for installation. Rackmount unit mounting bezels conform to rigid mounting hole industry standards in specific ranges of width, height, and location. Powder-coated and military-grade aluminum bezel enclosures make these displays perfect for rugged conditions and military applications. E3 Displays can assist in selecting the best display, specifying the correct touch or cover glass, designing a custom robust chassis/bezel system, and assembling the components for rack and panel mount computers.

Features of Military Displays

There are key features that set military displays apart from displays in other industries.

Protection against the elements 

Electronic military equipment must be adaptable to changing environmental conditions from extreme heat to freezing cold and dry, dusty deserts to tropical forests. Optical bonding seals the display from contaminants that could distort or destroy the video or image. Forced air, natural convection, and conduction heat sinks are methods to maintain temperatures in hot environments while transparent and conductive heaters are employed for sub-zero conditions.

Durability and Accuracy

Military personnel are always on the move and need their equipment to be durable enough to withstand rugged transportation and changing environments as well as maintain touch accuracy in changing conditions. One of the main ways a touch display can be enhanced for durability and touch accuracy is through optical bonding. The optical bonding process fills the air gap between the display and cover glass with an optically clear adhesive. This adhesive is cured using UV light and provides edge-to-edge adhesion. Filling the air gap provides a slightly thicker assembly which better equips it to withstand drops, strikes, and sudden jolts.

Portability

Since equipment is always on the move, it’s important that it be light and portable. Advancements in Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology have made it possible for displays to become even thinner which reduces equipment power consumption, weight, and size. Since OLED displays do not require a backlight their power requirements are lower, and they are lighter and thinner, making them ideal for small handheld applications.

EMI Protection

EMI protection in military displays utilizes materials and manufacturing techniques to prevent signal disruptions by both internal and external electromagnetic signals. Risks from EM interference include data and communications loss and interruptions up to and including total system failure. EM interference can be caused by high-current electronics that are in close proximity, high-speed communications devices, Bluetooth components, sensors, and other display equipment.

Conclusion

E3 Displays focuses on integrating these key features when manufacturing electronic military displays. Every application and situation is different, so we have a custom solution for almost any design challenge. Regardless of the application, one of the most important requirements of military displays is being ruggedized to withstand wind, water, dust, sand, cold, hot, shock, vibration, and other severe environments.

Military electronic equipment must be designed to meet the performance standards of high-reliability rugged environments. Touch screens contribute to improving personnel efficiency, communication, and mission execution, but it’s also important that equipment be manufactured for durability, reliability, portability, and ruggedness.  Display enhancements like optical bonding and EMI protection help make military display more rugged in highly demanding environments. E3 Displays supports your ruggedized electronics and display designs and can integrate touch, EMI protection, enhanced backlighting, and other peripherals into your system. To learn more and connect with E3 Displays click here.

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