Rugged devices tough enough for homecare nurses, are tough enough for everyone

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Written by
Sebastian Laureyssens

Key Account Manager - Healthcare - for Belgium and Luxembourg at Panasonic Mobile Solutions Business Division Europe. – Panasonic Connect Europe

Homecarers put rugged mobile tech to the test

Helping the elderly and ill remain in their own homes as long as possible is an important consideration for many ageing societies across Europe. Homecare nurses have a critical role to play in fulfilling these wishes of patients. Under increasing pressure, many health organisations are looking to mobile technology to help improve efficiencies and care in this sector. Homecare nursing in Belgium is leading the way in Europe with the adoption and daily use of 9,000 Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices.

When you start to look closely at the reasons why, you quickly understand that these devices are some of the only capable of standing up to the unique challenges of the home care nursing profession. Home care nurses can be making between 20-40 visits a day to patients – sometime twice a day to some patients – to do everything from changing bandages to monitoring readings and providing treatments.

At every visit, the nurse inserts the patient’s ID card into the smartcard reader on the device to record their visit and as proof to enable Government subsidy payments. This is the first benefit of a rugged device. With up to 40 visits a day, the smartcard reader needs to be super hard-wearing and able to stand-up to frequent use.

The second important factor is battery life. With nurses making lots of short visits throughout a long day – and sometimes, double shifts – the battery needs to work between charges as long as the nurse. 

Of course, preventing infection is another important consideration and the IP65 rating of the TOUGHBOOK devices against water and dust ingress means they are better than most computing devices at dealing with regular wipe downs and cleaning.

The overall rugged and usability aspects of the device are also critical. The devices have to be able to be operated with gloves on and easy to carry with hand and shoulder strap options to make them easy to use on the move between patients in all weather conditions.

Communications and security are also other very important aspects of the device. Real-time connectivity is important for updating patients’ records as they go and ensuring that they have all the required access to visit schedules, emails and other work applications. And if a device was ever to be lost or stolen, there are useful security applications that enable it to be located or for data to be wiped remotely.

It’s not only the nurses that like the devices. They work for the IT administrators too by taking away a lot of the pain of managing the devices. Updates can be scheduled and deployed remotely and smart management applications on the devices can inform when it’s the optimum time to replace batteries, for example.

Additional warranties and replacement services can also ensure that if a device does fail, the nurse can have their replacement up and running as quickly as possible. It all helps to keep the nurses productive and the patients cared for.

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