The Technology Behind the Healthcare Industry

News feeds today are awash with the latest in medical technology. We seem to be living in a world once only found in science fiction. From genetic engineering via CRISPR to the use of artificial intelligence in tumor detection and diagnosis, modern doctors are making great strides in patient care. 

One amazing piece of healthcare tech that’s under most news media’s radars are the medical computers underpinning most of the above devices. People don’t realize these machines are not your average off-the-shelf brands. Instead, they are marvels in their own right, with amazing features that make them the perfect PC for their demanding environments.

To start, most medical computers are medical grade. This means they have been built from the ground up to be safe near patients. 

Think about why that’s important. Would you want a computer that could turn off equipment use to monitor vital patient stats like heartbeat? Or spark in the operating room and ignite flammable anesthesia gas in the air? Medical grade computers are designed to prevent these and more. They have met a standard called 60601-1, which was created by an international organization, and have been verified by an independent testing facility. 

Many healthcare groups refuse to even look at a vendor’s medical equipment like computers unless they’re medical grade (and have the paperwork to prove it). Patient safety is too important (as it should be). 

Besides being built to be safe around patients, medical computers are designed to withstand the healthcare settings themselves.

Medical facilities like hospitals are hostile places for electronics. Departments from the ICU to the ER are open 24/7, and their staff expects their equipment to function near flawlessly when needed. They have to be, as lives are at stake. Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff, when bringing up a patient’s EMR up on the computer screen, expect it to appear. This is regardless if the computer has been used continuously for the past several months, or is being powered up for the first time that day. Many off-the-shelf brands, designed for occasional use or a daily 9-5 office schedule, break down after such use.

Many medical computers come with industrial grade parts. This allows them to withstand being bumped, shoved, and even dropped as they’re used around the hospital. Medical tablets, as you can imagine, suffer such abuse.

Many medical computers are sealed, usually IP65 rated. This is especially true of the front bezel, or the border between the screen and frame of a computer monitor or all-in-one. This sealing protects the computer interior and its components from liquids and dust. Hospital staff can spray directly on the screen and wipe it down without concern of possibly damaging it.

Working with the above IP65 seal is a fanless design. Many medical computers do not use fans, keeping cool instead through another means called conduction. This means there are no vents in the chassis for dust and liquids to enter the interior and damage the parts there. 

There are two more advantages to this. The first is that medical computers with fanless designs don’t break down as often or as easily as fanned ones. That’s because fans have moving parts which wear down and eventually stop. 

The second is that they’re silent. This is an advantage since hospitals have many wards full of patients needing rest to recover from illness. The last thing they need is to be kept awake by the whir of computer fan blades.

Finally, did you know many medical computers have antibacterial properties? It’s either coated on the surface of their chassis or baked into the plastic itself. The antibacterial protects against deterioration and degradation from microbes. 

Today’s healthcare industry is awash with technologies that looked like pure fiction not too long ago. And while they are dazzling to behold, there are many seemingly “common devices” like medical computers that, too, are marvels in their own right. 

Maria Colombo
Maria Colombo
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