How does the healthcare industry look for rugged mobile equipment?

It’s nearing the year end of the Healthcare market and those budgets for next year are being sorted as we speak so we thought it’d be topical to talk about the NHS and healthcare this week.  The healthcare market is one that we would always say buying an enterprise level rugged mobile computer or printer is always going to pay dividends and here’s a post that uses our experience in the NHS market to expose what these kinds of customer are looking for.


No surprises there but the healthcare industry is one big train that doesn’t ever stop.  A broken device is a real spanner in the works and can also put lives at risk on a bad day. A device must be rugged in this industry, it must be a simple sealed unit with no extra bits like sleds or cases to fumble about with and above all the devices should soldier on for years with no trouble.  Non-rugged kit can add 1/3rd more each year onto your total bill in lost time, broken kit and general support issues so it’s a very real thing to get right.

Tablets and small screens

Before you choose your hardware have you thought about your application in details? We’re seeing a trend towards larger screened rugged mobile devices in the NHS sector where a tablet has a lot more value than the 3.5″ screen of the classic rugged mobile PDA with many clients adopting larger 4.3″ rugged smartphones too. Making sure your hardware can support the data being captured both now and in the future is very important.

Patient data security

As more and more paperwork is moved into the mobile work stream, the processes will change but one thing never will and that’s the security of the patient data held on them. Patient data is headline news right now and keeping it safe, secure and not at risk of abuse is critical in ensuring we maintain a trusted healthcare system in the UK.  There are many devices that can store data securely, however some can make use of extra SAM slots for added security and we’re also seeing PCI certified kit being favoured in some instances.  The security of data in any healthcare application is paramount and should be at the forefront of decision makers minds for the outset.

Power for the whole day!

Despite being in a building most of the time, all day battery power is still a big requirement in the healthcare industry. Despite being largely an educated bunch, healthcare workers are typically not IT focussed in their knowledge so time and effort spent swapping out batteries, learning how to manage and operate devices and also deal with mobile kit that just run out of battery mid-patient session are things that can quickly add cost to the running of your mobile solution. Depot style charging at the of shift is favoured in the NHS, big long life batteries are a necessity as is a very easy way to deal with charging.

The lack of touching!

Some hospitals already have an RFID enabled bedside system where the device can be touched to the bed and gather the data it needs to identify the patient, ward and doctors at the bedside. In the healthcare industry there’s a place to touch and be friendly and there’s a place not to.  Rugged mobile devices that can operate in a clean not touchable manner are not spreading germs and are not reliant on user input to determine who they are entering data for.

Antimicrobial coated cases

If you see a nice white picture of a rugged device then the chances are it has an Antimicrobial case. More on these later in the week but essentially these are special cases that’s many manufacturers make specifically for the healthcare industry.  When moving from patient to patient, there’s normally a disinfecting process that everything has to got through to help stop the transfer of germs and any mobile equipment being used must also go through that process if being used patient to patient. An antimicrobial coated case works in a number of ways to aid with this making sure it can be washed easily with the harsh chemicals required to keep them clean on a constant basis.

Wireless networking

The NHS just spent a lot of money putting in world class wireless networking into all of it’s sites and it wants them to be used, especially where reducing cost on wireless connectivity can be found.  So devices that can use PTT, Voice over LAN and also that have good decent WiFi chips with CCX certification will thrive in the healthcare industry. Devices with consumer grade WiFi should be kicked out in an instant!

Barcodes – type, speed and accuracy

We’ve all been there, watching someone fumble about with a poor barcode scanner trying to scan some barcode and failing miserably. In Healthcare the barcode is at the centre of everything! Patients, locations, drugs, professionals and all the physical assets too so scanning a barcode must be easy, efficient and accurate. Every half second spent fumbling about will add up to gazillions of pounds over the course of a year so making sure the barcode scanners in the mobile devices being used are the very best ones is paramount.

Great price

You know what!  If you get the above sections right then the price will take care of itself, but price is important for healthcare as every penny possible is diverted on the people needing treatment. However buy too cheap up front and you’ll pay for it in year s 2 onwards so it’s very important that equipment selected is good value up front, but also doesn’t generate unforeseen costs once deployed.  Great support, good value accessories and replacement items as well as a good hardware roadmap are still vital to perform in a mission critical environment that any healthcare solution needs. BYOD and consumer class equipment rarely form the basis for this.

So if you’re a healthcare team or if you’re a provider into the healthcare market and need some help with your rugged mobile devices or simply have a question, come over to us and we’ll try to help the best we can.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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