Yours truly was quoted in this story on point of care computing devices by Neil Versel. In this review, Neil looks at all the various devices used at the point of care and more generally in care delivery areas like nursing stations. After talking with providers and vendors, the conclusion is there is no "one size fits all" solution. Here's what I took away from the story:

  1. Don't get locked in to any one solution, stay open systems and standards based.
  2. Healthcare delivery is inherently mobile, don't tie users to a limited number of locations. And don't forget your WLAN - coverage is important, but so too are capapcity (the number of devices per AP) and latency. If users are truly mobile, make sure hand-offs between APs and subnets works well.
  3. The choice between device deployment types (alcoves, COWs, bedside) should be driven by your situation - and remember situations vary among clinical areas.
  4. The market is transitioning from paper to paperless and both workflows must be supported. Don't forget things like the ability to print to the closest printer from a wireless device.
  5. Don't forget the basic health care requirements: water resistance, qualified for harsh disinfectants (find out which ones), ruggedized (1 meter drop on linoleum covered concrete), supports 8 and 12 hour shifts (battery life, swap and recharging), display and input devices must be consistent with applications - both now and during the expected life of the computing device.
  6. Technology roadmap - these are general purpose devices, so plan ahead (5 years at least) and consider all the different point of care automation and patient safety initiatives planed in your hospital. Otherwise, you'll be replacing more than you need to in the future.
  7. Consider infection control implications and develop policies and procedures to minimize risk and measure performance.
  8. Don't forget to consider these applications: point of care charting, meds administration, vital signs data acquisition, alarm notification and surveillance for patient monitors, smart pumps, and ventilators.

Read the whole thing.