Tablet style touchscreen devices are becoming more available and accepted by consumers with the new Apple I-Pad hitting the shops. Other manufacturers are creating their own touchscreen tablets with multi-touch technology, GPS and many other options. Mobile clinical assistants (MCA) are similar to a rugged tablet pc but specifically designed for use in a healthcare environment. Mobile clinical assistants are to be found in hospitals and other organisations where information is to be captured from patients.
Mobile Clinical Assistants are a great device for operating patient feedback surveys as they are easily portable and designed for ease of use. The touchscreen makes it simple for patients to provide feedback about services by simply touching some software buttons on the screen. MCAs can quickly retrieve patient records, X-rays and other images for a clinician to use when consulting with a patient. Mobile Clinical Assistants can also help reduce human errors due to handwriting and other misunderstandings.
Unlike a laptop, a Mobile Clinical Assistant is designed for the healthcare environment. It is designed to be tough and withstand light falls and is made from plastic which makes it easy to clean. Network connectivity is available via WiFi or wired Ethernet (when connected to the docking station) and some include Bluetooth. Wireless networks within the hospital ensure that the MCA is always connected to the internet or internal network for moving files and accessing web services.
Mobile Clinical Assistants come with a range of peripherals built in which makes them an ideal platform for developing touch-based healthcare applications. MCAs may include a RFID card reader, bar code scanner, webcam, microphone and speakers and biometric scanner. The biometric scanner or RFID reader can be used by the clinician to log-on to the MCA and ensure that only authorised people can use it. Bar code scanners and RFID can be used for scanning in patient Identification tags. MCAs have various sizes with screen sizes including 10in, 12in and 15in versions. The screens have an optional touchscreen which can also be used with a stylus and the screen resolution is typically 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 pixels.
Mobile Clinical Assistants are battery powered like a laptop computer but some have a built in battery in addition to the rechargeable one. This feature means you can swap the rechargeable battery for a fully charged one without having to switch off the MCA. Mobile clinical assistants are available with a docking station which acts as a place to leave the Mobile Clinical Assistant when not being used. The docking station will recharge the battery and may have the ability to charge additional batteries at the same time. The docking station typically provides access to extra USB ports and may include a connection to an external monitor. A large widescreen touchscreen monitor could be used as an additional screen if you wish to show a patient an image or other data.
MCAs find use in many areas within the hospital environment and will probably do so for some time to come. With new technologies for LCD screens, lower power computing processors and better battery technologies the MCA will provide a rugged platform to help provide an interface for NHS services for many years.tough tablet pc